Mariners Insider Blog

Not so fast: Mariners say Iwakuma will get at least one more rehab start

A disappointing rehab start Monday shows Hisashi Iwakuma isn’t yet ready to rejoin the Mariners’ rotation.
A disappointing rehab start Monday shows Hisashi Iwakuma isn’t yet ready to rejoin the Mariners’ rotation. AP

Pump the brakes on Hisashi Iwakuma’s return to the Mariners’ rotation. It’s going to be a while longer.

Iwakuma’s struggles Monday in a shortened rehab start at Triple-A Tacoma prompted club officials to shelve plans to activate him for a Saturday start against Houston at Safeco Field.

"Obviously, it didn’t go the way Iwakuma or we were hoping it would (Monday at Cheney Stadium)," manager Scott Servais said. "He’s definitely going to have at least one more rehab start. Hopefully, he bounces back from it."

The Mariners will now start either rookie Sam Gaviglio or Christian Bergman on Saturday against the Astros. Both joined the rotation in early May from Tacoma when injuries forced four of the club’s five starting pitchers to the disabled list.

Whichever one doesn’t start wil likely be optioned Friday to Tacoma to clear space for Felix Hernandez, who is returning from a eight-plus weeks on the disabled list because of bursitis in his shoulder.

"Keeping (both of) those guys starting would probably be the best thing to do," Servais said, "in case something happened and we had to go get somebody."

Iwakuma, 36, won a career-high 16 games last year but was 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA this season in six starts prior to his injury.

Plans called for Iwakuma to throw 70-75 pitches over five or six innings Monday as the final step in his recovery from shoulder inflammation, which was diagnosed after a May 3 start against the Los Angeles Angels.

Instead, Iwakuma lasted just two innings against Salt Lake (Angels). He gave up four runs on four hits and two walks while throwing 49 pitches.

"Overall, I felt so-so," Iwakuma said afterward. "I just couldn’t find my command and fell behind in the count. You don’t do that if you can command your pitches. I wasn’t doing that…it’s just not being able to execute your pitches."

Servais said: "Health-wise, it was just OK. The ball wasn’t really doing a whole lot. We need to give him a little more time. He’s not ready to go out in a major-league game right now and help us."

When that next start will be isn’t yet certain.

Servais said Iwakuma could get an extra day or two to recover before pitching again — which suggests the Mariners might wait until June 26, when Tacoma returns home to play Las Vegas (Mets) after four games at Reno (Diamondbacks).


While Iwakuma suffered a setback Monday, shortstop Jean Segura experienced no problems while playing five innings at Tacoma in his first game action since suffering a high right ankle sprain on June 1.

"I would love to see him in our lineup, if he can go, on Thursday," Servais said. "I understand he’s not going to be 100 percent, but Jean Segura at 90 percent is a pretty good player."

Plans called for Segura to play the entire game Tuesday at Tacoma and be evaluated on Wednesday. He was batting .341 in 43 games prior to his injury.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners