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Iwakuma pleased with first throwing session

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Injured right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw 34 pitches in his first bullpen session of the year Wednesday at Safeco Field, another step toward a potential return later this month or in early May.

The 2013 American League All-Star sprained the tendon on the middle finger of his throwing hand just prior to Spring Training and was unable to grip a baseball until late March. He had been playing long toss in the outfield over the past week before finally getting on the mound Wednesday.

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SEATTLE -- Injured right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw 34 pitches in his first bullpen session of the year Wednesday at Safeco Field, another step toward a potential return later this month or in early May.

The 2013 American League All-Star sprained the tendon on the middle finger of his throwing hand just prior to Spring Training and was unable to grip a baseball until late March. He had been playing long toss in the outfield over the past week before finally getting on the mound Wednesday.

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Iwakuma said all went well as he threw mostly fastballs with a few curveballs mixed in. He'll add some sliders for his next bullpen session, which is scheduled for Saturday, his 33rd birthday.

The goal is to build up his arm strength and pitch count and then begin a Minor League rehab stint, most likely with Triple-A Tacoma. There is no target date yet there, as everything hinges on Iwakuma feeling strong and progressing without any setbacks to his finger or arm.

"We'll take it one day at a time," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "We'll leave it to the trainers and pitching coach as to what they see, and hopefully, from my standpoint, soon. But I'll leave that up to them. I just progress one day at a time and go from there.

"Obviously I want to come back as soon as possible, but I don't want to rush anything right now. All I can do right now is cheer and root for the team to do good things. It's a good feeling to be on a good start like this."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.

Seattle Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma