Hisashi Iwakuma won’t participate in World Baseball Classic

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Yu Darvish isn’t the only Japanese starting pitcher planning to skip the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

From the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, comes word that Hisashi Iwakuma has decided not to pitch for Japan and “will instead focus on preparing for his second season with the Seattle Mariners.”

Iwakuma inked a two-year, $14 million contract extension with the M’s earlier this month after registering a fantastic 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 101/43 K/BB ratio across 125 1/3 innings in 2012. The deal also includes a $7 million option for 2015.

Darvish and Iwakuma both pitched for Team Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. That group won the country’s second straight title, with Daisuke Matsuzaka earning his second straight tournament MVP.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: