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.
Via WEEI.com comes a report that Red Sox minor league pitcher Kevin Steen was critically injured in a car crash on Wednesday night near Fort Myers.
The driver of the other car involved in the accident was killed. Steen is in the hospital in critical condition. It appears as though the other driver veered off the road, overcorrected and then crossed the center line, crashing into Steen’s SUV.
Steen, 20, is a starting pitcher. He was a ninth round pick of the Red Sox in 2014 out of Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He’s played three seasons in the Sox season and was about to begin his fourth.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.