Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field on September 25, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

by Curtis Crabtree
KJR reporter
Twitter: @Curtis_Crabtree

SAFECO FIELD - Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma threw 58 pitches off the mound at Safeco Field on Tuesday as part of a simulated game as he works back from a sprained middle finger.

Iwakuma was scheduled to get the start for the Tacoma Rainiers tonight against the Sacramento River Cats in a rehab start. However, concerns about the weather report for the game made the team re-evaluate their plan. The fears were proven accurate as the Rainiers' game was cancelled tonight.

Iwakuma instead threw with controlled conditions under the Safeco Field roof to make sure he got the needed work in.

Iwakuma pitched a four-inning simulated game and said afterward he felt the outing went well.

"The ball jumped out of my hand pretty well today and I feel pretty close to the regular season," Iwakuma said.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said it was a definite step forward from his previous simulated game in Miami.

"I thought he had better finish to his fastball, better finish to the breaking ball. I thought he was sharp,” McClendon said. “The fastball had that little bump right at the end. I was very pleased with what I saw today."

Iwakuma's next step is to join the Rainers for a start in Las Vegas on Sunday. He is expected to throw around 75 pitches in that rehab appearance. If all goes well, Iwakuma could be close to returning to rotation. However, McClendon said they fully plan to be patient with Iwakuma's return.

"We’ll see, but you have to be patient." McClendon said.

Iwakuma is developing a bit of a blister on his finger, as he did last year in spring training. It tends to manifest from throwing his split-finger fastball. However, he said it isn't nearly as bad as what he dealt with a year ago.

"This happens all the time at this point in the season,” Iwakuma said. “I’m not worried. It’s not as bad as what we’ve seen in the past."

OF Logan Morrison did some running in pre-game workouts and is getting close to being sent out on a rehab assignment. He was placed on the disabled list last week with a strained hamstring.


Houston Astros

2B Jose Altuve
CF Dexter Fowler
C Jason Castro
RF George Springer
1B Marc Krauss
LF Alex Presley
DH Chris Carter
3B Matt Dominguez
SS Jonathan Villar

RHP Collin McHugh (0-0, ---)

Seattle Mariners

CF Abraham Almonte
LF Dustin Ackley
2B Robinson Cano
DH Corey Hart
3B Kyle Seager
1B Justin Smoak
RF Michael Saunders
C Mike Zunino
SS Brad Miller

RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 7.50 ERA)