The Seattle Mariners lost one of the best pitchers nobody talks about this week; they will be without their lesser known front-line starter for most of Spring Training and possibly into the start of the regular season.
Right-handed starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will be out 4-6 weeks after straining a tendon in his right middle finger. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said the following about the injury (from MLB.com):
Luckily, this does not appear to be a serious injury. 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 was an All-Star last season and finished in the top three in the American League Cy Young voting. In 33 starts he threw 219.2 innings with a 2.66 ERA and a 7.58 K/9 mark. Paired with Felix Hernandez, he gives the Mariners a legitimate 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.
The injury will not require surgery, just rest. Iwakuma will likely be back with the team during Spring Training, but he might not be pitching off a mound in enough time to be ready for the start of the regular season. Pending a setback, Iwakuma should be back in the Seattle rotation before too long, though for a franchise that desperately wants to be relevant in 2014, any time without him is significant.