SAN DIEGO – Hisashi Iwakuma might not be 100 percent. But he’s starting on Friday in Kansas City.
“He’s not 100 percent, but he’s ready to go unless something drastically changes,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.
The Mariners All-Star right-hander pitched through neck pain in his last start — giving a stellar outing of eight innings pitched, one run allowed on six hits with six strikeouts. The neck still isn’t feeling great. But that won’t stop Iwakuma from making his start against Royals ace James Shields in what should be a fantastic pitching duel.
Iwakuma skipped his bullpen session on Wednesday and threw off flat ground instead.
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“I’m feeling much better,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “I did my flat ground throwing yesterday and wasn’t feeling anything. So that’s good progress, and hopefully it turns out to be nothing tomorrow.”
After missing the first month of the season with a strained tendon in his finger, Iwakuma has been stellar in the No. 2 slot.
He’s made nine starts and has posted a 5-3 record with a 2.59 earned-run average. In his past three starts, he’s allowed just four runs in 221/3 innings pitched with 18 strikeouts and two walks.
Jones in the way?
James Jones could only laugh about his misfortune on Wednesday night. After hitting a swinging bunt in front of the pitcher, the speedy Jones tore off for first base. Padres catcher Rene Rivera fired the ball toward first to get Jones. Only it got Jones in a different way, striking him in the back of the helmet just before he touched first base. It knocked him off his feet.
“I knew something was wrong, because the first baseman threw his target down and I had a feeling the ball was coming down the line, but I was hoping it would hit me in the back or something,” Jones said.
Even worse, he was ruled out for running in the baseline. “They said I was a few inches off, like I wasn’t on the line exactly and I can’t interfere with the line right there,” Jones said. “One of the coaches saw a video and said my foot was like two inches over or it would have been all right.”
McClendon wondered what Jones was supposed to do in that situation.
“That’s what I asked,” McClendon said. “I’m baffled by a lot of things. He was right on the line. What’s he supposed to do? When you get to the bag, you have to touch the bag. What are you supposed to do, stop and reach out?”
• McClendon said everything is on schedule for outfielder Michael Saunders (shoulder inflammation) and designated hitter Corey Hart (hamstring strain) to join Class AAA Tacoma on Friday for rehab assignments.
• Robinson Cano went 3 for 4 for his 27th multi-hit game of the season. It was the 99th time in his career he’s had three hits in a game.