Mariners sign Hisashi Iwakuma to one-year, $1.5M contract

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From ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick comes word that the Mariners have signed Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma to a one-year, $1.5 million major league contract. The agreement also carries another $3.4 million in performance-based incentives.

Iwakuma, 30, registered a superb 2.42 ERA and 90/19 K/BB ratio in 119 innings last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball. He posted a 2.82 ERA and 153/36 K/BB ratio across 201 innings in 2010.

The A’s tried to sign Iwakuma last offseason, offering up a $19 million posting fee for exclusive negotiating rights, but the two sides ultimately failed to work out a major league contract. If everything goes well in spring training with the Mariners, the 6-foot-3 native of Tokyo should grab a spot at the back end of the Seattle starting rotation.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.