Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma throws one splitter, tries out a new pitch in final spring tuneup
Hisashi Iwakuma threw his final tuneup Thursday, a two-inning outing against Padres minor leaguers, and declared himself ready to go for the season.
“I am very happy with where I am at,” he said after giving up a run on two hits and one walk while striking out two.
Iwakuma, who suffered a blister of sorts earlier in camp, added that his finger was fine. The finger kept him from throwing his splitter in his last minor league start, and he threw exactly one on Thursday. Despite the fact that he has thrown the pitch in a game just once in the last 10 days, Iwakuma has confidence in the pitch.
“To be honest with you, I wanted to see where my split was at today so I did use one pitch and I struck the guy out so I am very satisfied with it,” he said with a smile.
To compensate for not having the splitter, Iwakuma has been experimenting with a changeup. He threw a handful of changeups Thursday and is seeing progress with the pitch.
“I think it is a useful pitch. It is an efficient pitch as well as long as I don’t throw it to the fat part of the plate,” he said. “It’s just to kind of prevent my finger. Just to kind of play around with it as this is not official so I have been working on that as well, just in case.”
It doesn’t sound like he will need to use it. The finger issue is considered to be mild.
“No matter how bad the finger is he will throw the split on Tuesday,” said interpreter Antony Suzuki.
The newest Mariner, Nick Vincent, also threw an inning in the minor league game. This was a somewhat strange experience for Vincent as he was throwing to hitters who were his teammates less than 48 hours ago.
“I got to face (John) Shields, that was cool,” he said “But there were definitely nerves out there for the first time in a while. I haven’t had that in spring training in a while. That was fun.”
Vincent gave up no hits, no runs and struck out Shields in his inning of work. He will throw another inning Saturday in the Mariners’ final game of spring training.