Baseball / MLB

Hisashi Iwakuma wishes new Mariner Kikuchi well

Kyodo

Former Seattle Mariners and now-Yomiuri Giants right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma said Tuesday he hopes Yusei Kikuchi will make his mark on the majors when he joins the American League club.

“I think you have chosen to join an amazing team,” Iwakuma posted on Instagram. “I hope you accomplish many great things. I’ll also be striving to accomplish my many goals in Japan.”

After six seasons with the Mariners where, he racked up 63 wins including a no-hitter in 2015, Iwakuma decided to leave the organization in order to continue his playing career in Japan.

The 37-year-old spent last year in the minors after his 2017 season was cut short due to shoulder issues and reached an agreement with the Central League’s Giants in December.

“Since there are a lot more difficult things than you would imagine about life in a foreign country, like living in Seattle, I can provide you with some advice so you can concentrate on baseball,” Iwakuma said.

Kikuchi, one of Japan’s top pitchers last season, signed a four-year deal with the Mariners after being posted to the majors by the Seibu Lions. The left-hander showed off his No. 18 uniform at a press conference in Seattle last Thursday, the same number Iwakuma wore during his six-season tenure with the team.

“I wore number 18 during my many years on the Mariners and it means so much to me that you’ll be wearing it as well,” Iwakuma said.

The 27-year-old Kikuchi is the latest Japanese to join the club which has had at least one player from the country on its roster for over two decades including Iwakuma, Ichiro Suzuki, Kenji Jojima, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Kazuhiro Sasaki.