The Mariners got some good news today. Hisashi Iwakuma visited hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan this morning and was cleared to have the protective splint removed from his injured middle finger. He will still wear during workouts for the next few days for protection and wear it at night when he sleeps.
With the splint off, Iwakuma will do finger strengthening, movement and range of motion exercises since it was immobilized for five weeks.
“The finger is very stiff right now, but the good thing is I am pain free,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.
‘He will throw a tennis ball on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the hope of throwing baseballs on Monday.
Why tennis balls?
“Because that’s what the doctor said,” McClendon replied.
Iwakuma was all smiles in the clubhouse.
“To be honest, it’s been a very, very long five weeks,” Iwakuma said. “I’ve done everything I was supposed to do.
McClendon wouldn’t give a specific date as to when Iwakuma would step on a mound. But it seems as though he’s starting over with his throwing program. Iwakuma wasn’t certain either.
“It’s hard to say being in my situation right now,” he said. “I want to come back soon, but I don’t want to push it and have any more setbacks. It’s a long season and I look forward to finishing strong. That’s all I have in mind.”
Iwakuma said he’d only need one to two starts to find the feel of his pitches, but it will take longer to build his pitch count and arm strength.
Taijuan Walker will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. It will be 50 pitches and he will mix in breaking balls. If all goes well, Walker will move to a live batting practice or simulated game. I still think the Mariners may start Walker in Class AAA for a few games before putting him into the big league rotation.
Brandon Maurer (neck, back) played catch from 75 feet for six minutes on Tuesday. He is progressing.
As for the rotation, McClendon said he won’t wait till the end of spring training to decide what it will be for opening day. He has an idea of how he wants it to play out, but it’s a matter of pitchers showing him.
Here’s the probables going forward … those these can and probably will change.
Felix Hernandez will start in a minor league game on Thursday instead.
Roenis Elias gets another start, which is something McClendon confirmed earlier.
Robinson Cano is supposed arrive some time tonight and will be in uniform tomorrow. The hope is he will also play in the game in Peoria against the Brewers.
A few links …
Jeff Sullivan writes about Nick Franklin much better than I did earlier today.
Here’s my radio appearance earlier today with Jason Puckett and Ian Furness on KJR.