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SEATTLE MARINERS START MLB SPRING TRAINING
Wed, 15 Feb 2012 04:15 PM EST

Spring training is officially current with Seattle’s pitchers and catchers holding their 1st workout.

The center of alertness for the brief Sunday morning session under a bright blue sky at the Peoria Sports Complex was the team’s newest acquisition from Japan. NFL scores

Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma did a little of running and a bit defensive work. He’ll throw off the mound for the 1st time on Monday.

The Mariners and Iwakuma concluded to a 1-year, $1.5 million agreement last month, and just over $3 million in incentives. He joins an organization already popular in Japan thanks to the existence of that country’s star, Ichiro Suzuki. Basketball scores

Seattle Mariners started spring training a week before other teams because it will open its season early, on March 28 in Japan against Oakland. The Athletics chose not to start spring training early. Their initial workout at their facility in Phoenix is lined up for next Sunday.

There is another new addition from Japan in Seattle’s camp. The Mariners signed shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league deal and he is a non-roster invitee.

“The game’s really changed,” Seattle executive Eric Wedge claimed. “It actually is a world game and you are combing the global waters. You’re not crossing any person off. Glaringly we have strong ties with Japan and Ichiro’s showed the way with that. I suspect it’s just healthy. We have got Iwakuma in camp, we’ve got Kawasaki in camp, and Ichi will be showing up pretty soon too. I believe it’s totally healthy for the game in general.”

Iwakuma played with Ichiro on Japan’s World Baseball Classic championship team in 2009, where he was the starter in the deciding game.

That contest followed Iwakuma’s best season, 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 28 starts for Tohoku Rakuten. He permitted just three home runs that season in 202 2/3 innings, earning the Japanese alike of the Cy Young Award.

Iwakuma has recounted the World Baseball Classic encounter in the United States fueled his wish to come to the major leagues. It virtually occurred a year back, when the A’s reportedly were prepared to give $19.1 million to Rakuten simply to have the inalienable right to sign him. Talks broke down with the A’s, though, and Iwakuma returned to his Japanese club last season, when a shoulder injury limited him to 17 starts. He was 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA.

The Mariners have said they’re certain the shoulder has healed, although the velocity of his fastball has dipped a little to the low 90s.

Iwakuma is a control pitcher anyhow, counting on groundouts instead of blowing his fastball past anybody.

“He had a lot of achievement in Japan as a beginning pitcher,” Wedge claimed. “He believes in his stuff, throws many pitches for strikes and throws the ball over. He is aggressive. He got a little dinged up last year so we’re upbeat he’s going to be healthy this year for us.”

Iwakuma changed into a free agent after last season, and he arranged with the Mariners following a December trip to Seattle that encompassed a long dinner with GM Jack Zduriencik, who satisfied the pitcher how much he was wanted in Seattle.


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