Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is heading back to Japan — as a member of the opposition to his native country.
Iwakuma will join teammate Robinson Cano on a major-league select team for an upcoming series of five games against Japan’s national team (Samurai Japan) in Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.
“I am very happy and honored to be part of this All-Star team,” Iwakuma said. “I look forward to pitching in my hometown during the series.”
The major-league team will also include Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Cano committed to the trip in August.
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Plans call for Iwakuma to be limited to one start in “All-Star Series 2014,” which begins Nov. 12 in Osaka. The teams play Nov. 14-16 in Tokyo before concluding the series Nov. 18 in Sapporo.
Iwakuma, 33, went 15-9 with a 3.52 ERA in 28 starts despite missing the season’s first month because of a finger injury. He also vested a 2015 contract option for $7 million.
Prior to signing with the Mariners in January 2012, Iwakuma was 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in 11 seasons for Kintetsu and Rakuten in the Japan Pacific League.
This marks the first formal tour of Japan by a major-league team since 2006. It is the 11th such tour overall.