SEATTLE — It’s going to be longer than expected before the Seattle Mariners can expect former All-Star righty Hisashi Iwakuma to return to their rotation.
Iwakuma won’t throw for 10 days to two weeks after reporting continuing tightness in a strained back muscle that surfaced April 21 — one day after his last start.
“It’s a tough situation.” he said. “I took about a week off, and then I started to throw for about a week. But I still felt something. It’s not pain. It more tightness. But we’re making sure that I feel nothing when I throw next time.”
Specifically, Iwakuma has a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle, which connects the arm to the back. The revised timetable makes it unlikely he will rejoin the rotation before mid-to-late June.
“His rehab has not gone as well as we thought it would (go),” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s still experiencing some stiffness…Anytime you have a lat strain, you’ve got to be careful.
“It just makes sense to back him off.”
Once Iwakuma is judged ready to resume throwing, he will likely follow the normal progression: playing catch, throwing long toss, throwing from a mound, a simulated game or two and at least two minor-league rehab starts.
“I was hoping I would be pain-free or feel nothing,” he said, “by the time I was scheduled to throw. But I was still feeling something inside. It is frustrating.”
Hoping for more favorable match-ups, the Seattle Mariners are tweaking their rotation this week in order to steer left-hander Roenis Elias away from San Diego’s heavy right-handed lineup.
Monday’s open date in the schedule will permit right-hander Taijuan Walker to start Wednesday’s game against the Padres with his usual rest between starts.
Elias will shift back one day and pitch Thursday in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field.
“It’s (also) about wanting to line up our lefties against Boston,” McClendon said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a righty against this club (the Padres) either.”
McClendon indicated Sunday that he was considering such a move to keep Elias away from a Padres’ lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers.
“San Diego likes to hit off left-handers,” McClendon said. “(It’s) nothing he’s done. Just trying to get the best matchup.”
The Mariners are already starting one lefty, James Paxton, in the two-game series against the Padres. He faced a San Diego lineup Tuesday that, including two switch-hitters, had nine right-handed hitters.
The Mariners’ rotation change sets up a revised cycle, starting Wednesday, of Walker, Elias, J.A. Happ, Felix Hernandez and Paxton.
BACK IN LINEUP
Shortstop Chris Taylor returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game because of a bruised right hand, which he suffered a day earlier while diving back to first base on a pickoff play.
“It’s fine — 100 percent,” Taylor said. “I tested it in the cages (in early batting practice), and it felt great.”
Taylor’s return meant Brad Miller shifted back to designated hitter for the third time in four games.
Center fielder Austin Jackson could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment later this week after testing his sprained right ankle by running the bases prior to Tuesday’s game.
Jackson suffered the injury May 3 while running out a ground ball in Houston. He is eligible to return May 18 from the disabled list and, if all goes well, could be activated on that day.
Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez is on the cover of the next issue of ESPN The Magazine, which should be available Friday on newsstands.
The story by Kevin Van Valkenburg “follows the Mariners’ ace during one of the most pressure-packed starts of his career, discovering why he’s called “King Felix.”
The story should be available online on May 20.
MINOR DETAILSDouble-A Jackson outfielder Dario Pizzano extended his hitting streak to franchise-record 21 games Monday with an RBI triple in an 8-3 victory over visiting Biloxi (Brewers).
The previous record of 20 games belonged to outfielder Jeff Frazier in 2007, when the franchise was known as the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.
Pazzano, 24, is batting .409 through 24 games with a .434 on-base percentage. He has hits in all but one game.
The Mariners selected Pizzano in the 15th round of the 2012 draft.
***Lefty Danny Hultzen started Monday for Jackson and gave up two runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. It marked his second start since returning from major shoulder surgery.
***Infielder Tyler Smith, selected earlier Monday as the Southern League player of the week, went 3-for-5 in the Generals’ victory and raised his average to .339.
Missaki, 19, pitched seven innings of a combined May 1 no-hitter against Cedar Rapids. He was 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA in six starts. The Mariners signed him in 2013 after he pitched for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic.
Cleto, 22, hasn’t pitched since April 18 and had allowed three runs and five hits over 7 2/3 innings in three relief outings. A Dominican native, he signed with the Mariners in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent.
It was 14 years ago Wednesday — May 13, 2001 — that Edgar Martinez scored the 1,000th run of his career.
He scored from second base on a two-out RBI single by Bret Boone against Esteban Loaiza in the first inning of a 7-5 victory at Toronto.
Martinez concluded his 18-year career in 2004 with a franchise-record 1,219 runs. Ichiro Suzuki ranks second at 1,176, followed by Ken Griffey Jr. at 1,113.
The Mariners and Padres are considered “natural rivals” for scheduling purposes — the Vedder Cup! — despite being separated by approximately 1,050 miles. The second-longest distance between natural rivals is the 882 miles between Houston and Colorado…The Mariners’ bullpen allowed only two runs over 12 innings in the three-game weekend sweep over Oakland. The relief corps allowed 11 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings over the previous seven games.
The Mariners and Padres conclude their two-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Taijuan Walker (1-3, 8.13) was face San Diego’s James Shields (4-0, 4.25) in a matchup of right-handers.
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.