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Iwakuma progresses closer to sim game

Mariners pitcher throws bullpen session, as he rehabs strained lat

SEATTLE -- Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma took another step forward in his rehab program Sunday at Safeco Field, when he threw between 35 and 45 pitches in his second bullpen session since going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle.

The plan is for Iwakuma to throw another bullpen session in the next few days, then, if all goes well, progress to a sim game. Barring a setback, he'll be ready for a rehab assignment.

Another encouraging sign: Iwakuma threw all his pitches in Sunday's bullpen.

"He'll throw another (bullpen session) next week and we'll reevaluate at that time and see if he's ready for a sim game," manager Lloyd McClendon said before the Mariners wrapped up a season-high, 11-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Iwakuma, 34, went 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in three starts before he was placed on the DL April 24. But he was dominant the past two seasons, when he went 29-15 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.03 WHIP (walks-and-hits-per-innings pitched) in 61 starts.

Meanwhile, McClendon said injured left-hander James Paxton will be reevaluated in the next "five to six days" as he recovers from a strained left middle finger that landed him on the 15-day DL on May 29. Paxton is a little past the two-week shutdown period the club invoked after he got hurt. He won't join the Mariners on their upcoming eight-game road trip.

Paxton is 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts in 2015.

"From what I was told we were lucky because it didn't come off the bone," McClendon said of the injury. "So it could be a shorter amount of time, but traditionally, speaking conservatively, it's anywhere from six to 12 weeks, so you have to be cautious with this type of injury. I believe [Corey] Kluber had this type of injury as well. The worst thing we can do is try to rush him back."

Adam Lewis is a contributor to
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