Hisashi Iwakuma took a big step toward rejoining the Mariners' rotation, tossing 56 pitches over 3 2/3 innings in his first rehab start for Single-A Everett on Saturday night at Everett Memorial Stadium against the Eugene Emeralds, the Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
“For the first time in a long time,” Iwakuma said before Sunday's game against the Astros through interpreter Antony Suzuki, “(I felt) back in game mode again. I still need to work on timing and mechanics. Other than that, I felt good.”
Of Iwakuma's 56 pitches, 41 were for strikes. He allowed one run -- a solo home run to 2015 first-round draft pick Ian Happ -- on three hits and struck out three batters.
Manager Lloyd McClendon said Iwakuma's next rehab start will be Thursday in Triple-A Tacoma against the Reno Aces at Cheney Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
McClendon is happy with Iwakuma’s progress but said the right-hander will make at least three rehab starts.
“He’s not there yet,” McClendon said. “Two starts won’t get him there.”
Iwakuma was placed on the disabled list April 24 with a strained lat muscle behind his right shoulder and hasn’t pitched in a game since April 20. An American League All-Star in 2013, Iwakuma is 0-1 with a 6.61 earned-run average in three starts in 2015.