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Hisashi Iwakuma will head back to Japan to play baseball

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37-year-old pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will head back to Japan to continue his baseball career, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. Iwakuma, who missed the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, says he’ll be ready by spring training.

Iwakuma signed a minor league deal with the Mariners last November after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement on his right shoulder last September. He appeared in two minor league rehab games on August 26 and 31, pitching three innings in total.

Iwakuma pitched in Japan from 2001-11 before going overseas to play Major League Baseball. Across parts of six seasons with the Mariners, he won 63 games with a 3.42 ERA and a 714/185 K/BB ratio across 883 2/3 innings. Iwakuma earned approximately $48 million during his time in the U.S. Not bad.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.