Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma could be back as soon as mid-May after surgery on his right shoulder.
Iwakuma made only six starts last season, going 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA. The problems with his pitching shoulder sent him to the disabled list in May and caused setbacks during his recovery.
The 36-year-old Iwakuma had debridement surgery on Sept. 29. The procedure removes dead, damaged, or infected tissue in an effort to improve the healing of healthy tissue.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Tuesday at baseball’s winter meetings. “He’s a huge asset and we'll hope for the best.”
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Servais added that Iwakuma’s return could happen “probably” in mid-May to early June.
“We really missed him last year, and what he’s able to do, and just his consistency of going out there and giving you six competitive innings,” Servais said.
Servais touched on several other topics during his time with reporters:
▪ He said he would enter spring training with the newly-acquired Dee Gordon as the leadoff hitter followed by last year’s No. 1 man, shortstop Jean Segura, batting second;
▪ On Gordon’s switch to center field from second base: “A guy that talented that athletic and that fast, you're looking at different things that he's done throughout his career, like going back on pop-up at second base,” Servais said.
“He's got unbelievable range and that's what we're using to hopefully take advantage of that in the outfield and running the balls down.”
▪ A group of players, led by Nelson Cruz, are working out together in Florida, including new acquisitions and Gordon and first baseman Ryon Healy;
▪ He would be open to using a six-man starting rotation at some point in the season but it would not be necessary early in the year because of the offdays and;
▪ The team is still examining whether it will go with a 12-man or 13-man pitching staff. He said the reason the Mariners carried 13 pitchers last year was because of the trouble starters were having going deep into games.