By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners failed to make it out of reporting day without a significant injury. On the day where pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to Peoria, Ariz. for physicals, the team issued a press release with general manager Jack Zduriencik stating that Hisashi Iwakuma would not be allowed to throw a ball for four to six weeks.
From the release:
While working out in Southern California in preparation for spring training, right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma suffered an injury to the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand.
Iwakuma was examined by hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan in Arizona. Dr. Sheridan has diagnosed a strained tendon in his middle finger.
Iwakuma has had the finger placed in a splint, and will not throw for four to six weeks. He will be re-examined after three weeks. At this time, it is not expected that the finger will require surgery to repair.
"Luckily, this does not appear to be a serious injury," said Zduriencik. "It is a setback for Kuma, but we are confident that he will quickly overcome the missed time and be able to rejoin our rotation early in the regular season."
Iwakuma spoke in Peoria shortly after the release was issued and explained that the injury occurred when he got tangled up in the netting of a protective screen while playing catch.
"I knew it was injured but I didn't think it was a major thing," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "I rested it for about a week and then I started playing catch again – long toss as always. I thought it was good, but the pain didn't go away."
This is a blow. The Mariners' rotation, while full of potential, is thin. Best-case scenario, Iwakuma is given the green light to start throwing again in three to four weeks. It would appear there is little to no chance that he will be able to get into any spring training games. He will need to make rehab starts. I would think a mid-April return would be a bit optimistic but we shall see. The team will be cautious with him and from what I have seen with Iwakuma he will be smart about his return. He knows what he needs to be ready.
The question now is whether Zduriencik will bring in another arm.