Mar 18, 2014, 4:03 PM EST
Hisashi Iwakuma has been sidelined for more than a month with a strained tendon in his middle finger, but the Mariners right-hander has been cleared to resume throwing after meeting with doctors.
Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Iwakuma will start slow by throwing tennis balls Friday and then hopefully advance to baseballs early next week.
There’s zero chance for him to be ready for Opening Day and seemingly still a decent chance that Iwakuma will miss most and perhaps all of April, but for now the Mariners haven’t put forth an official return timetable.
His health is a huge factor in Seattle’s odds of contending this season, as Iwakuma emerged as one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball last year with a 2.66 ERA and 185/42 K/BB ratio in 220 innings spread over 33 starts.
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