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Mariners notebook: Iwakuma’s comeback close to next step

Post by Bob Dutton / The News Tribune on April 14, 2014 at 5:03 pm with No Comments »
April 14, 2014 7:46 pm
Hisashi Iwakuma is getting closer to heading out on a rehab assignment. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)
Hisashi Iwakuma is getting closer to heading out on a rehab assignment. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma continues his comeback Tuesday with a 55-pitch bullpen that should include some split-finger fastballs.

That is Iwakuma’s signature pitch, and throwing it from a mound should provide one of the final tests in his recovery from a strained ligament in his middle finger.

If all goes well, Iwakuma will throw a 45-pitch simulated game Saturday in Miami in preparation for his departure on a minor-league rehab assignment.

Tentative plans call Iwakuma to be assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Iwakuma, 33, was an All-Star in 2013, when he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts. He finished third in the Cy Young award balloting.


Beavan’s return

Right-hander Blake Beavan joined the traveling party prior to Monday’s game and will be recalled officially from Tacoma prior to his scheduled start Tuesday against the Rangers.

The Mariners must make a corresponding roster move at that time.

Beavan, 25, failed to win a spot in the rotation in spring training but got the call to replace an injured James Paxton after opening the season with two strong starts at Tacoma.

“When I went to Tacoma,” Beavan said, “I just told myself, `Don’t get upset that you’re here. Just take it as an opportunity to prove and show that you can help when the phone call (comes).’

“That was my whole plan when I went down to Tacoma, that `I’m just going to take advantage of my opportunity here, do as well as I can here, and not worry about stuff at the next level that I can’t control.’

“Pretty much just show these guys that I am capable and ready to step in if need be at this level.”

Beavan was 16-19 with a 4.61 ERA in 53 big-league games, including 43 starts, for the Mariners from 2011-13.


Broadcast change-up

Ex-Mariner Mark McLemore is joining the Mariners’ broadcast team in Texas as a temporary replacement for Dave Sims, who will resume his duties for the weekend series at Miami.

Rick Rizzs and Mike Blowers handled the Root telecast on Monday and will do so again Tuesday, while Aaron Goldsmith and McLemore worked radio duty.

It will be Goldsmith and Blowers on Root for the final two games Wednesday and Thursday; Rizzs and McLemore will do the radio.

McLemore played for the Mariners from 2000-03 near the end of a 19-year career.


Walker’s next stop

Right-hander Taijuan Walker makes his third rehab start for three different clubs in 14 days Tuesday when Triple-A Tacoma plays Salt Lake (Angels) in the start to an eight-game homestand at Cheney Stadium.

Walker, 21, is recovering from a sore shoulder that surfaced in spring training and forced a one-week shutdown from all throwing in early March.

Minor-league rehab assignments can last a maximum of 30 days for pitchers. (Non-pitchers are limited to 20 days.)

Walker began his rehab tour on April 4 at Hi-A High Desert, where he allowed one earned run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings against Inland Empire (Angels) while striking out seven and walking one.

Next came a five-inning stint on April 9 at Double-A Jackson, where he worked five scoreless innings against Mississippi (Braves) while yielding there hits, striking out 10 and walking one,


Looking back

It was 18 years ago Tuesday — April 15, 1996 — that the Mariners staged the biggest comeback victory in franchise history. They rallied for an 11-10 victory over Anaheim at the Kingdome after trailing 9-1 in the fourth inning.

Shortstop Alex Rodriguez, batting ninth in his first full season, fueled the comeback with two home runs.

Short hops

Reliever Tom Wilhemsen is available again for duty after being slowed over the weekend by tightness in his back…McClendon shook up his lineup by dropping first baseman Justin Smoak to seventh in the order. Smoak batted fourth for the first 10 games and dropped Sunday to fifth. McClendon said: “We got shutout (Sunday) and scored one run two days ago. Just trying to shake it up a little bit.”…McClendon also said Corey Hart, as long planned, will likely serve as the club’s primary cleanup hitter for now. But McClendon said, “I don’t think we’re anywhere close” to seeing Hart in right field.


On tap

The Mariners and Rangers continue their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Right-hander Blake Beavan (1-0 with a 2.08 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma) will start against Texas lefty Robbie Ross (0-0 and 1.74).


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