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Iwakuma still battling the blister plus news and notes

By Shannon Drayer

Post game note...The finger did not fare well in the game and Eric Wedge said he would look to get him extra days off between starts once they get the extra off days.

Hisashi Iwakuma takes the hill tonight looking for win number three. The hope going into the season was that he would pick up where he left off in the second half of last year. One of the reasons he had success in the second half was that he found a routine that worked for him which was necessary coming off shoulder troubles and a different work schedule in Japan. The amazing thing about his impressive start this season is he has not been able to do all of that routine as he has been dealing with a blister on his middle finger. In a sense he is taking the field every fifth day without any sort of practice.

Because of the blister Iwakuma has not been allowed to throw any breaking pitches between starts. He gets his feel for those pitches when he takes the mound. His bullpens have been more throwing sessions than anything else. He throws 25-30 fastballs and that is it. How long will he have to continue this way?

There is some optimism that he is close to putting the blister problems behind him. The problem dates back to the end of spring training when the callous on that finger came off. That healed quickly but the new skin was too soft and the contact with the seam of the baseball destroyed it every time he threw the splitter. It has been an ongoing cycle ever since with blood blisters forming during and after each start.

Iwakuma has toughed it out to the extent of having the blisters drained during his starts. According to trainer Rick Griffin once the blister is drained he has 1-2 innings left that he can pitch. That is why he was taken out after only 70 pitches in his start against Detroit.

Between starts the training staff is doing everything they can to toughen up the skin on Iwakuma's finger. Some of you asked if they were soaking the finger in pickle juice. They are not, but he has been using Peruvian Balsam and Bag Cream to help aid the healing and regenerating of skin on that finger.

The good news is they have seen progress and significant progress since the start against Detroit. Griffin is hopeful that Iwakuma may get through tonight's game without tearing up the finger again. If he does, then relief may not be far off as the Mariners have three off days in the first nine days of May. If the blister is not completely healed by then pitching coach Carl Willis told me they will look to use those days to push Iwakuma back and give him a few extra days to let the finger completely heal once and for all.

News and notes...

Franklin Gutierrez has been placed on the 15 day DL with a strained right hamstring and will undergo an MRI when the team returns to Seattle.

Carlos Peguero has been called up to take Gutierrez's place on the 25 man roster. Eric Wedge will use him in left and right and Jason Bay in center if necessary.

Peguero's time with the team will most likely be short as Michael Saunders could return as soon as Friday. He threw from 60 feet today and had a good batting practice session. He has been keeping both hands on the bat on his follow through to better support the shoulder and could do that when he returns as well.

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