Mariners receive good news on Hisashi Iwakuma

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The Mariners got some good news on right-hander hisashi Iwakuma. Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports that the right-hander was fully cleared. Iwakuma will be able to resume his throwing program as he makes his way back from a strained middle finger. Mid-to-late April remains the target for his return.

Iwakuma, 32, finished third in AL Cy Young balloting last season, finishing with a 2.16 ERA and a 4.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 219 2/3 innings. While prognosticators don’t expect him to repeat the 2.16 ERA, he is still projected to be a solid contributor behind Felix Hernandez when he returns.

Texas Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister

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The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.

Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.

Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons, willing the Manager of the Year Award in 2015. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however and, after an offseason that neither helped the Rangers rebuild OR reload, this season the descent has continued.

Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a full rebuild is in the club’s future. Even if that was not the case, however, recently there have been some reports about Banister having trouble communicating with his players, suggesting that, perhaps, the Rangers would move on from him even if the results on the field had been better.

Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.