Out since early spring training with a finger injury, Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to come off the disabled list and make his season debut Saturday against the Astros.
Iwakuma stretched out to 86 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Sunday, so he should be more or less without restrictions versus Houston. He wasn’t particularly sharp in the final tune-up outing, however.
Iwakuma was one of the elite pitchers in baseball last season, throwing 220 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts. Seattle is still waiting for rookies Taijuan Walker and James Paxton to get healthy to complete what has a chance to be one of the best rotations in the league, but Iwakuma joining Felix Hernandez will provide a huge boost in the meantime.
It used to be that the top dog in a team’s baseball operations department was the general manager. That has changed over the past several years with some combination of title inflation, a genuine addition of supervisory layers and, on some level, employe poaching insurance leading to the top dog now being called, usually, a “president of baseball operations.”
Brewers’ general manager David Stearns is the latest to assume that tile, as the club just announced that he has been promoted to Milwaukee’s president of baseball operations. He has also received a contract extension of unknown length.
Not a big shock given how well the Brewers did in 2018, winning the NL Central title and playing in the NLCS. It’s also worth noting — with a nod to that “employee poaching insurance” item above — that Stearns has drawn some interest from other organizations. It’s thus not unfair to see the promotion is both a thanks for a job well done and a means of keeping other teams’ hands off of him, as employees are generally not given permission to interview for lateral moves, but are given permission to interview for promotions.
The Mudville Nine may have wanted to steal him from Milwaukee, but for Stearns to get a promotion from where he is now would require the creation of some other lofty title.