Iwakuma admitted there is structural damage in the shoulder and he's seeking opinions on how to treat it
Hisashi Iwakuma won’t pitch again for the Mariners this season. That became pretty clear about a month ago when he experienced yet another setback in what has been a four-month recovery from shoulder inflammation.
“It’s disappointing for him and our team,” manager Scott Servais said. “He had a tremendous season last year. Unfortunately, things happened and he just hasn’t been able to get over the hump with the injury.”
On Tuesday, the veteran right-hander admitted that his shoulder issues won’t allow him to pitch again this season and that he’s in the process of seeing multiple doctors to see what his best option his going forward.
“We need to explore different options,” he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “We’ve done everything we can do back there (Mariners training room). There were good signs and bad signs too, meaning good days and bad days. It’s just not consistent. I haven’t decided on what the next option is now.”
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Iwakuma was somewhat cryptic as to the shoulder issues, but did admit there is something structurally wrong. But wouldn’t elaborate what was specifically damaged.
“I really don’t want to talk to the media about it,” he said.
The second, third and even fourth opinions he’s seeking from doctors were about diagnosis, treatment and solutions.
“I generally know what’s wrong inside the shoulder,” he said. “It’s just what I need to do to prevent pain.”
From the day he went on the disabled list on May 10 with the shoulder inflammation, Iwakuma has worked diligently to come back. While some players have to be cajoled into doing the rehab work and treatment on the disabled list, Iwakuma was maniacal about doing what was asked and more. It’s a lonely existence on the DL, but he never pouted.
“He has worked his tail off,” Servais said. “There’s nobody that’s worked harder than he has. He’s tried everything he could to get back and help contribute to our team. It just not happening.”
To put in that sort of effort and have your body betray you is something that plays on the minds of players, particularly those in the twilight years of their career.
Iwakuma’s contract had a $15 million vesting option for the 2018 season that activated if he threw 162 innings this season or a combined 324 innings between 2016-17 or didn’t end the season with an injury. That means he will be a free agent after the season.
He shrugged off questions about his future.
“I don’t have the space and the luxury to be thinking about next season,” he said. “I just need to be thinking about getting healthy now. And if I can get healthy now and soon, the rest will take care of itself.”
But asked if he wants to continue playing, he replied: “I plan to.”
If he never throws another pitch for the Mariners, his time with the organization was still productive and cost efficient. In six seasons with the Mariners, he made 136 starts and 14 relief appearances, posting a 63-39 record with a 3.42 ERA.