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

Silvertips fall to Americans 3-2 in overtime

Goaltender Blake Lyda, 15, saves 32 shots in an outstanding debut with Everett.

Seahawks’ Bennett says he’ll continue to sit; Avril headed to IR

Seattle’s defensive ends make news that goes far beyond the football field.

Huskies razor-thin at CB heading into UCLA matchup

UW may look to true freshmen with junior Jordan Miller and redshirt freshman Byron Murphy hurt.

Yankees beat Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead in ALCS

Masahiro Tanaka pitches 7 strong innings as New York moves to within one win of the World Series.

REFLECTIONS: Silvertips fall despite impressive Lyda debut

The Game Obviously a 3-2 overtime loss wasn’t the desire result. Nevertheless,… Continue reading

Snow goose prospects outstanding again

The increasing number of snows in the area leads to an increase in the daily bag limit and more.

Wayne Kruse’s Pick of the Week: Crabbing ‘out front’

By Wayne Kruse For The Herald The just-past summer recreational crab season… Continue reading

Chicago stays alive in NLCS with 3-2 win over Los Angeles

Wade Davis hangs on for a tense 6-out save as Chicago avoids a sweep and forces Game 5.

Wednesday’s prep results, links and recaps

Here are Wednesday’s prep results, links and recaps: BOYS SOCCER Northwest 2B/1B… Continue reading

Most Read