Baseball / MLB

Hisashi Iwakuma hits snag in comeback attempt

Kyodo

Hisashi Iwakuma faces a delay to his comeback, originally scheduled for late spring, after a lingering right shoulder injury halted a simulated game Saturday at the Seattle Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Arizona.

Iwakumi, who was invited to the Mariners’ spring training this season on a minor league contract, stopped 7-8 pitches into the simulated game after experiencing issues with his surgically-repaired shoulder.

“I don’t know how severe it is; he just didn’t feel right and thought it was best to shut it down and give it a little time,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told mlb.com.

“He’ll get looked at by our doctors and see where he’s at. The early thought is it might be a little tendinitis going on in there.”

The 37-year-old underwent right shoulder surgery last September after an injury-shortened sixth season with the Mariners. He went 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in six starts, failing to record a win for the first time in his major league career.

But Servais said Iwakuma had been throwing well in spring training and during workouts with the team, and admired the veteran right-hander’s determination.

“Kuma is off the chart in his work ethic and how he goes about it. He throws almost every day. That’s just how he’s wired,” Servais said. “A lot of Japanese players are wired that way as well. They just want to get their reps in and keep it going.

“But we probably need to slow him down and shut it down for a couple of days and let it calm down.”

The simulation was the second of three planned situations before Iwakuma was to be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment. While originally targeting a return by mid-May to early June, Servais was positive about Iwakuma’s eventual recovery.

“You’re always disappointed anytime anybody has a setback,” Servais said.

“But certainly for all the time and energy and effort he’s put into trying to get back, again, I think it’s just a little off the path from where he wants to go, but he’ll get back on it. I feel confident in that.”

In his major league career, Iwakuma has a 63-39 record with a 3.42 ERA over 150 games with the Mariners. He is one of only two Japanese pitchers to throw a no-hitter in the majors, after legendary right-hander Hideo Nomo.