Hisashi Iwakuma has been sidelined for more than a month with a strained tendon in his middle finger, but the Mariners right-hander has been cleared to resume throwing after meeting with doctors.
Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Iwakuma will start slow by throwing tennis balls Friday and then hopefully advance to baseballs early next week.
There’s zero chance for him to be ready for Opening Day and seemingly still a decent chance that Iwakuma will miss most and perhaps all of April, but for now the Mariners haven’t put forth an official return timetable.
His health is a huge factor in Seattle’s odds of contending this season, as Iwakuma emerged as one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball last year with a 2.66 ERA and 185/42 K/BB ratio in 220 innings spread over 33 starts.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.
Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.
With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.