Iwakuma has signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2019 season, the Kyodo News reports. Iwakuma pitched in the minors in the Seattle organization last season as he worked his way back from September 2017 shoulder surgery. Turning 37 during the 2019 season, he seems unlikely to return to MLB down the road. Iwakuma previously played in Japan for the Kintetsu Buffaloes (now Orix Buffaloes) and Rakuten Eagles.
Iwakuma (shoulder) will attempt to play in Japan in 2019, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Iwakuma has been sidelined all season while recovering from a shoulder injury. Given his age (37) and recent injury history, this likely signals the end of Iwakuma's major-league career. The veteran right-hander posted a respectable 3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 63-39 record across parts of six big-league seasons with the Mariners, highlighted by a 2013 All-Star appearance.
Iwakuma (shoulder) is still considered a long shot to pitch in a major-league game in 2018 according to manager Scott Servais, David Gottlieb of MLB.com reports. "He'd love to get in a game at some point, but we really haven't talked about it," Servais said. "I think he felt OK and his stuff was just OK. It's been a long time since he's pitched, so the expectations need to be realistic." Even if he never dons the Mariners uniform during what remains of the regular season, Iwakuma has seemingly made substantial progress by getting back into game action after a year-plus layoff. The veteran right-hander has managed to make three rehab starts for short-season Everett, offering mixed results. It remains to be seen whether Iwakuma will try to resume his major-league quest again next spring, with the prospect of further strengthening his surgically repaired shoulder over the offseason certainly a factor working in his favor.
Iwakuma (shoulder) was charged with the loss in short-season Everett's defeat at the hands of Spokane on Wednesday, allowing three earned runs on four hits and three walks over two innings. He recorded one strikeout. On the bright side, Iwakuma got some work in, laboring through 47 pitches. While that was a good test for his surgically repaired shoulder, how he ended up with that robust of a workload was problematic. Iwakuma struggled with control throughout the appearance and gave up some hard hits as well, surrendering a pair of two-baggers during his two frames. It's difficult to gauge how this outing affects the Mariners' outlook on Iwakuma for what remains of the regular season, but at least his shoulder appears to finally be showing signs of bouncing back.
Iwakuma (shoulder) tossed two scoreless innings in short-season Everett's loss to Vancouver on Friday, walking one and striking out two. Iwakuma's hopes of pitching some big-league innings in 2018 remain alive following a second consecutive encouraging outing, one in which he worked up to a modest 20 pitches. Naturally, the level of competition is far from what he would face at the major-league level, but the fact his surgically repaired shoulder seems to be holding up well thus far is the most important takeaway from his first pair of minor-league outings. Iwakuma has now pitched three innings overall with Everett, and he could potentially be bumped up to a higher level in the organization for his next rehab appearance.
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