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.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.