Out since February with a strained tendon in his middle finger, Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw a simulated game today without any problems and has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Iwakuma will likely make a Triple-A start Tuesday or Thursday, although nothing is official yet. At the time of the injury the Mariners indicated that they expected him to miss all of April, so Iwakuma appears to be more or less on that timetable still.
Last season he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, finishing third in the AL Cy Young balloting, and the 33-year-old right-hander has a 22-10 record and 2.66 ERA in 49 career starts for the Mariners since coming over from Japan.
If Seattle can ever get Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker healthy and together in the same rotation it could have something pretty special.