Good News, Bad News, No News: Yusei Kikuchi expected to pitch in Mariners’ opening series

Feb 14, 2019, 11:37 AM

Yusei Kikuchi threw his first public bullpen at Mariners spring training Wednesday. (AP)...

Yusei Kikuchi threw his first public bullpen at Mariners spring training Wednesday. (AP)


It appears the Mariners won’t waste any time getting Yusei Kikuchi on a mound in a Major League game.

Photos: M’s pitchers and catchers hit the field at spring training

Kikuchi, the 27-year-old left-hander signed by the Mariners this offseason out of Japan, is expected to start one of the games of Seattle’s March 20-21 season-opening series against the Oakland A’s. What makes that all the more interesting is those two games will be played in a building Kikuchi is quite familiar with – the Tokyo Dome.

On Thursday morning, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk discussed the likelihood of Kikuchi’s MLB debut coming in his home country.

“That’s good news, I don’t think there’s any surprise there,” said Brock Huard, who added how impressed he is by what he’s seen from the southpaw’s pitch repertoire. “Man, his ball moves an awful lot. … Just watching the amount of movement that he creates with his off-speed pitches, even in his first public bullpen.”

Kikuchi comes to Seattle after eight seasons in Japan’s Nippon Pro Baseball league, where he put together a 74-48 record, 2.81 ERA and 1.12 WHIP for the Saitama Seibu Lions.

Mariners manager Scott Servais spoke about Kikuchi on Tuesday, saying the Mariners don’t want him to fall into a trap that other Japanese pitchers have encountered when moving to the MLB.

“We love YK, that’s why we signed him. We don’t want him to change, and I think sometimes players come over and they think they have to do things a little bit differently. He doesn’t,” Servais said.

Huard mentioned that there is one big change Kikuchi is having to get used to in spring training, however.

“I liked the note that said his biggest adjustment right now is going from a 10-hour practice (in Japan) to about an hour when it comes to the Mariners,” Huard said.

To hear the full Good News, Bad News, No News segment, listen to this podcast of Brock and Salk’s second hour from Thursday’s show.

Team: mariners

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Good News, Bad News, No News: Yusei Kikuchi expected to pitch in Mariners’ opening series