Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Mariners’ starting rotation has looked like a M.A.S.H. unit to start the 2014 season. Both Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker went down prior to the start of the Cactus League schedule. James Paxton left his second start of the season with a lat injury. Even Blake Beavan, called up for a fill-in start, went on the DL after his one and only start.
But the tide may be beginning to turn for the Mariners. Hisashi Iwakuma is set to make a rehab start in Las Vegas for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers on Sunday. If all goes according to plan and ‘Kuma has no setbacks, the plan is to have ‘Kuma make his 2014 season debut with Seattle next Friday (May 2) in Houston against the Astros.
According to a Q&A chat with fans via Twitter, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune cautions that the timetable will be adjusted if the club doesn’t like what they see Sunday, or if Iwakuma has a setback. SO far so good for Iwakuma who pitched a 58-pitch simulated game earlier this week, and according to Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports:
"Iwakuma told reporters afterward that he felt very good during Tuesday’s simulated game, saying “the ball jumped out of my hand pretty well” and “I feel pretty close now to the regular season.”"
Iwakuma was 14-6 in 2013, was elected to the American League All-Star team and finished third in the AL Cy Young voting. Mariners fans will breathe a sigh of relief to get him back in the rotation.