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Hisashi Iwakuma to miss 4-6 weeks with shoulder inflammation

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Mariners’ right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks with right shoulder inflammation, per an official announcement by the team on Saturday. Iwakuma had been battling knee and shoulder pain over the last week and was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday (retroactive to May 7) after a preliminary evaluation revealed inflammation in his pitching shoulder. The diagnosis was confirmed on Friday by Dr. Ed Khalfayan.

It’s been a rough start to the season for the 36-year-old righty, who posted a 4.35 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 over his first 31 innings in Seattle. He’s coming off of some career-high numbers in 2016, during which he racked up a career-best 16 wins and a career-worst 4.12 ERA and 6.6 SO/9 rate through 199 innings. This is the first significant injury he’s seen since 2015, when he missed the first half of the season with a strained lat muscle.

The Mariners look significantly worse for wear after losing over half of their 2017 rotation to various injuries. James Paxton (left forearm strain) is scheduled to return to the rotation sometime in the next week or two, though it stands to reason that the club would take things slowly with one of their best pitchers. Felix Hernandez (right shoulder inflammation) and Drew Smyly (left flexor strain) are working with longer timetables for recovery, and neither are likely to see the mound before June. In the meantime, the Mariners will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his season debut against the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.