Notebook: Hisashi Iwakuma gets through simulated game, closing in on return
The all-star right-hander threw a 35-pitch simulated game with teammates James Jones, Logan Morrison and Stefen Romero batting against him.
Seattle Times staff reporter
MIAMI – The Mariners can realistically start envisioning Hisashi Iwakuma as a member of their starting rotation.
On Friday afternoon, Iwakuma took a major step in his recovery from a strained tendon in his middle finger that caused him to miss much of spring training.
The All-Star right-hander threw a 35-pitch simulated game with teammates James Jones, Logan Morrison and Stefen Romero batting against him.
“I thought Kuma threw pretty darn good,” McClendon said. “He was pain-free. I thought he had good extension. I was pleased.”
Drenched with sweat and all smiles, Iwakuma was upbeat after the outing.
“I felt good today in general,” he said through translator Antony Suzuki. “It was my first time facing hitters. I was kind of nervous trying to find my balance. But I was able to throw strikes, so that was good.”
Iwakuma showed good velocity with his fastball and didn’t hold anything back.
“I was going 100 percent just like a game,” he said. “And I had no pain. I was pain-free in my finger. Everything was good.”
While Iwakuma was giving 100 percent effort, he felt he was about 70 percent of himself on the mound.
“I still need to command my pitches and get that feel back of pitching,” he said.
Iwakuma will throw a bullpen session on Sunday and then head out to a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma possibly on Tuesday, according to McClendon said.
“We just want to see him continue to progress and stay healthy,” McClendon said.
But how long will it take for him to progress to be ready to rejoin the rotation? Often times it takes 20 innings in rehab outings.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to take 20 innings,” McClendon said. “We’ll see. I hope it doesn’t take 20 innings. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t take 20 innings. The main thing is, when he comes back, we have to make sure he’s ready to compete at the major-league level with all of his pitches. ”
• A day after starting in right field, Corey Hart got the start at first base. With no designated hitter this weekend, it was a way to have Hart hit without wearing him down too much. Hart leads the team with four homers.
• As expected, McClendon named Brandon Maurer his Sunday starter. Maurer was told last night in Tacoma and he’ll join the team by Saturday.