Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hisashi Iwakuma throws in practice for first time since returning to Japan with Giants

Kyodo

Former major league pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on Wednesday threw for the first time in practice since making his return to Japanese baseball with the Yomiuri Giants.

The 37-year-old right-hander tossed 45 pitches, testing out a variety of balls at the Giants’ preseason camp in Okinawa.

“Right now, I’m just working out how much I can throw. I think it felt alright,” he said.

Iwakuma joined the Giants in the Central League after leaving the Seattle Mariners organization at the end of last season.

He spent all of 2018 in the minors after his 2017 season was cut short due to shoulder issues. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in fall of 2017.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said he was optimistic about Iwakuma’s progress after watching him throw.

“It seems like he can already throw more than we thought, but he still needs more time,” Hara said.

Following the conclusion of camp on Thursday, Iwakuma will continue fine-tuning with the farm team.

“Things are progressing well. I need to improve the quality of my pitches and my condition while I throw more,” he said.

The Giants reportedly signed Iwakuma to a one-year contract worth an estimated ¥50 million ($445,000).

The right-hander, who has a combined 170 wins in Nippon Professional Baseball and the majors, joined the Mariners from the Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2012.

Iwakuma was the Pacific League MVP and the Sawamura Award winner in 2008 and started for Japan’s World Baseball Classic-winning team in 2009.

In MLB, Iwakuma threw the fifth no-hitter in Mariners franchise history on Aug. 12, 2015.