Iwakuma likely to start for M’s on Saturday

Look for All-Star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma to rejoin the Mariners’ rotation Saturday and make his season debut that afternoon against the Astros in Houston.

The official announcement likely won’t come before Saturday because activating Iwakuma from the disabled list requires a corresponding roster move, but club officials privately confirm he will pitch that day.

For now, manager Lloyd McClendon merely identifies Iwakuma as “a possibility” to pitch Saturday, though the skipper acknowledged he didn’t “have any concerns” at returning Iwakuma to the rotation.

Iwakuma, 33, finished third last season in the Cy Young Award voting after going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts. He also compiled the best WAR (wins above replacement) rating among American League pitchers.

Until now, he’s been unavailable because of a strained ligament in his middle finger. The injury occurred in a late January workout but wasn’t identified until he arrived in early February for spring training.

The injury prevented Iwakuma from throwing until late in spring training, and he didn’t return to game action until last Sunday, when he threw 83 pitches over four innings in a rehab start for Class AAA Tacoma at Las Vegas.

Iwakuma said earlier this week he felt ready to return to the rotation.

“Yes, of course,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “If I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be pitching. … As of now, it’s not where I finished off last year. I think I’m around 70 percent overall. And it will get better. It’s been getting better every bullpen I’ve had.”

Tentative plans called for Iwakuma to pitch Friday, but McClendon pushed two starters — Roenis Elias and Felix Hernandez — back one day after rain postponed Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium.

A healthy, effective Iwakuma would provide an immediate boost for a patchwork rotation that is also struggling to overcome injuries to two other starters: promising rookies James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

Further, Erasmo Ramirez pitched so poorly that he was optioned to the minors; and Blake Beavan, promoted after Paxton’s injury, lasted just four innings before shoulder problems forced him to the disabled list.

More in Sports

After slow start, Huskies roll past Colorado 37-10

Myles Gaskin rushes for 202 yards and two touchdowns as No. 7 Washington wins its Pac-12 opener.

Silvertips fall to Winterhawks 7-4 in season opener

U.S. Division-favorite Portland scores six goals in the second period to sink Everett.

Anything can happen this season for Silvertips

An A or an F. That was the assessment of what the… Continue reading

REFLECTIONS: Silvertips fall to Winterhawks in season opener

The Game The 2016-17 season started with much promise. The Everett Silvertips… Continue reading

Seahawks embattled O-line set to face Titans’ pressure defense

Can Seattle rise up and repel Tennessee defensive guru Dick LeBeau’s aggressive pass rushes?

No. 18 Washington State crushes Nevada 45-7 to stay perfect

Luke Falk tosses five touchdown passes as the Cougars improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2001.

Mariners pounded by Indians

Seattle commits five errors, gives up four home runs in its 11-4 loss.

Friday’s prep football results

Arlington loses Wesco 3A North showdown to Ferndale; Monroe remains unbeaten.

Saturday’s prep girls swimming and diving results

PREP GIRLS SWIMMING AND DIVING Saturday Mukilteo Invite King County Aquatics Center… Continue reading

Most Read