PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners pitchers and catchers were required to report to spring training on Feb. 15 in order to get ready for opening day. For one of the pitchers, his preparation for the season opener meant arriving a week prior to that date.
Hisashi Iwakuma, 35, got to Seattle’s complex on Feb. 8 and immediately got under way preparing himself for the upcoming year. Iwakuma has a specific preparation technique for himself, which he developed over his years in Japan and continues to use for the Mariners.
The main goal for Iwakuma this season is to pitch consistently well throughout the season. He made 33 starts last season, starting slow with a 1-4 record. Iwakuma heated up when the team needed him, going 13-3 over 16 starts when Felix Hernandez was put on the disabled list.
The aging pitcher began to show signs of fatigue towards the end of the season however, and he was upset that he was unable to secure a win in his last outing against Oakland, which knocked Seattle out of playoff contention.
Iwakuma posted 16 wins over the course of 2016, a mark that he said he would like to eclipse this season, but that his main goal is to stay healthy until the end of September.
“Sixteen wins was great, but I look forward to more than that this year,” Iwakuma said. “I don’t have a goal yet, but just staying healthy for an entire season and helping the team, contributing is all I think about.”