Hisashi Iwakuma cleared to begin rehab assignment

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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.

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.