(Photo by Associated Press)
Hisashi Iwakuma, who signed a two-year, $14-million contract with the Mariners on Friday night, answered some questions submitted to him by the media, through the Mariners. Logistical issues prevented a news conference.
Here are his answers to questions asked and translated by Antony Suzuki:
Thoughts on why you wanted to stay in Seattle?
“First and foremost, I am very happy with how the Seattle Mariners treated me throughout the season and for their evaluation in me as a starter. We have great teammates here along with an outstanding coaching staff. My family was a big factor in our decision, but we are very happy and satisfied with Seattle and we look forward to staying for at least 2 years.”
What are your overall impressions of the major leagues after one year of pitching at the big-league level? What things did he learn?
“There was a lot I learned this year as a reliever in the beginning, just a whole new experience in a different role. I was very happy given the opportunity to become a starter again, and am glad I was able to show what I can do. As I became comfortable in my role, I learned a lot about the hitter here and how they are different from Japan.”
Are you going to change anything in your offseason preparation because of that? How big a difference will his experience make for next year?
“I do not see myself changing anything dramatically. I would like to prepare for the season earlier than the past and come to spring training ready to go as opposed to getting prepared in spring training.”
Did your pending contract situation weigh on you at all this season, or were you able to put it out of your head?
“No, I believe I was able to concentrate and stay focused in my game during the season, and let it play out once all was over.”
Will anything change for you with the new dimensions at Safeco Field?
“No, obviously we know that the ball doesn’t travel well in Seattle. I just need to continue locating my pitches and keeping the ball down in the zone.”
Do you feel you work best as a starter?
“Yes, I am most comfortable as a starter and I’ve learned a lot from the experience this year. That said, this year was a very important year for me knowing what fits best for myself. ”