Mariners’ Iwakuma prepares to throw again

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Wolf goes 4 scoreless in 5-all tie with Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Randy Wolf pitched four scoreless innings as the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres played to a 5-5 tie Tuesday night.

Wolf, who did not play last season after having Tommy John surgery in 2012, scattered two hits and two walks, while striking out three on 73 pitches.

“Thought he was a little bit sharper than the last couple times out,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It was a good outing for him.”

Wolf, a 37-year-old left-hander vying for a spot in the rotation, said he considered more than results when assessing his performance.

“To me it’s about getting stronger and better every time out as far as the sharpness of your pitches and my strength, durability,” he said.

San Diego starter Josh Johnson also pitched well, throwing 4 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

Seattle infielder Brad Miller took advantage of Johnson’s only miscue, hitting his fourth homer of the spring in the third inning.

Miller, battling Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop role, finished 3 for 4 with a triple and three runs.

“He has the ability to hit the ball out of the ball park,” McClendon said. “No question about it, had a good game tonight, played very well.”

STARTING TIME

Padres: Compared to last spring, when Johnson was with Toronto, the Padres’ pitcher is feeling positively great.

“I was feeling beat up before spring training (last year),” Johnson, who battled arm injuries throughout the 2013 season and suffered through the worst of his nine Major League seasons.

Johnson said he feels “right and normal” now and he pitched well enough against Seattle to support that claim.

“Everything has kind of gone exactly to plan, if not better,” he said. “It’s been good so far. Just got to keep gong and keep getting out there and progressing like I have been.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Padres: Third baseman Chase Headley will play in a minor league game on Wednesday, manager Bud Black said. Headley is recovering from a strained right calf and has been sidelined since Feb. 22 and has not played in a game this spring. Headley could play on Thursday — San Diego is off on Wednesday — if he does not suffer a setback.

Mariners: Seattle received good news when pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was cleared to have the protective splint removed from his the injured middle finger on his throwing hand.

“The finger is very stiff right now, but the good thing is I am pain free,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Iwakuma would start slowly by throwing tennis balls on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If the right-hander doesn’t experience a setback he could begin throwing baseballs on Monday. Iwakuma, who finished third in American League Cy Award voting last season, is looking forward to returning to the field after missing more than a month.

“It’s hard to say being in my situation right now,” he said. “I want to come back soon, but I don’t want to push it and have any more setbacks. It’s a long season and I look forward to finishing strong. That’s all I have in mind.”

NO WORRIES ABOUT RODNEY

New Seattle closer Fernando Rodney gave up a run for the fourth time in five springs appearances. In one inning he allowed two runs — one earned — on two hits and a walk, while striking out two.

McClendon isn’t worried about Rodney’s performance.

“Fact is, most closers stink in spring training,” he said. “They’re pitching the fifth, sixth inning. It’s tough. They’re a different animal. It’s hard to get the adrenaline going. We just need to keep getting him out there and getting his work in.”

Jedd Gyorko’s double off Rodney in the sixth scored Everth Cabrera and Alex Castellanos scored later in the inning on a passed ball, giving the Padres a 2-1 lead. Rodney, who saved 85 games the past two seasons for Tampa Bay, recovered and retired the next three batters, including two by strikeout.

UP NEXT

Padres: San Diego has no game scheduled for Wednesday. Andrew Cashner (2-0, 0.00 earned run average) is slated to start against San Francisco on Thursday.

Mariners: Blake Beavan (2-0, 2.13 ERA) will make his fourth Cactus League start when Seattle hosts Milwaukee on Wednesday. Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen are also listed to pitch.

PEORIA, Ariz. — Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t need his translator for the question or the answer.

“Are you happy?” Iwakuma was asked.

Iwakuma’s face broke into a wide grin, as he nodded and said, “Yes, yes.”

Why?

He was soon to be splint free. Earlier on Tuesday, Iwakuma visited hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan, who told him the good news that he can soon ditch the irritating plastic contraption that has kept his injured right middle finger locked into place and begin preparing for the 2014 season. Iwakuma will only have to wear the splint during workouts and at night sleeping as a form of protection, otherwise his finger is free.

The injury has been frustrating for Iwakuma, who is coming off a brilliant 2013 season where he finished third in Cy Young voting, was named to the American League All-Star team after posting a 14-6 record with a 2.66 earned-run average and striking out 185 batters in 2192/3 innings pitched.

For five weeks, Iwakuma has been a partial pitcher, relegated to running and conditioning, simulating his mechanics, but unable to actually to throw a baseball as he recovered from a strained tendon in the finger.

“To be honest, it’s been a very, very long five weeks,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “But the doctor said I could take that splint off and do more with that finger — the actual rehab — so that’s a good thing. I’ve done everything I could for the last five weeks.”

The rehab starts with finger exercises to strengthen and return the range of motion.

“The finger is very stiff right now, but the good thing is I am pain free,” Iwakuma said through Suzuki.

On Friday, he will throw for the first time using a tennis ball instead of a baseball. That will continue on Saturday and Sunday.

Why tennis balls?

“Because that’s what the doctor said,” manager Lloyd McClendon replied.

If everything goes well, Iwakuma will throw a baseball on Monday for the first time.

But it could be more than a month before he throws a baseball in a major-league game.

Because of the lengthy time off from throwing, his spring training basically begins now.

Iwakuma must first be pain free in the finger from daily throwing for several days before he can even set foot on a pitcher’s mound. It would be difficult to see Iwakuma being ready before the last week in April.

He wasn’t sure how long it would take for him to be ready to rejoin the rotation.

“It’s hard to say being in my situation right now,” he said. “I want to come back soon, but I don’t want to push it and have any more setbacks. It’s a long season and I look forward to finishing strong. That’s all I have in mind.”

That’s all McClendon has in mind as well. He won’t allow himself to project when Iwakuma might be back. He still has to decide on a rotation to start the season that won’t include Iwakuma or Taijuan Walker.

“I just need to focus on who I’ve got here and what I’ve got available and what I’m dealing with,” McClendon said. “You get caught up in that and you get disappointed. So I don’t even think about it.”

NOTES

Walker will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. It will be 50 pitches and he will mix in breaking balls. If all goes well, Walker will move to a live batting practice or simulated game. Walker is recovering from shoulder bursitis and has had no setbacks thus far.

— Outfielder Cole Gillespie was reassigned to minor-league camp. Gillespie, a nonroster invite, appeared in 14 Cactus League games, hitting .391 (9 for 23) with a double, triple and RBI. The former Oregon State standout will likely be assigned to Class AAA Tacoma.

— Brandon Maurer (neck and back stiffness) played catch from 75 feet for six minutes on Monday. He is progressing.

— The Mariners have reshuffled their rotation. Felix Hernandez will start in a minor-league game on Thursday. Erasmo Ramirez will make the start for the Mariners on Thursday in Mesa against the Cubs.

— Robinson Cano was supposed to arrive Tuesday night from the Dominican Republic. He will be in uniform Wednesday. The expectation is he will also play in the game in Peoria against the Brewers.

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