Iwakuma may miss start of season with finger injury

ARLINGTON -- All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw 55 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon at Globe Life Park and next will face live hitters for the first time this spring Friday in a simulated game when the team is at Miami.

Iwakuma, 33, missed all of Spring Training after spraining a tendon in his right middle finger after catching it in a netting during a mound drill just prior to the start of camp. He threw his third bullpen session on Tuesday and this time included his trademark split-fingered fastball, which puts maximum pressure on his injured finger.

"I felt great today," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "I was able to command all my pitches to both sides of the plate and keep the ball down. They released me from the split finger, too, and that felt great."

Iwakuma acknowledged the splitter was a big test and had been something of a concern.

"Yes a little because you have more stress when you do split your fingers and with that first joint, you do put more pressure than with other pitches," he said. "But I felt no pain and wasn't worried at all throughout the whole bullpen. So everything went great."

He's expected to do a normal game warmup and then throw about 45 pitches to hitters in the simulated game situation Friday. If all goes well, Iwakuma should then be able to go out on a Minor League rehab stint, according to manager Lloyd McClendon.

The club continues to not put any time frame on Iwakuma's process, but a return in early May is logical if he makes two or three rehab starts.

"It's been a long process, but I've been able to focus the last couple weeks," Iwakuma said. "Now that I'm throwing bullpens, until today and for another week or so I'm only allowed to cheer for the team and I can't go on the field. So I want to become part of the team soon and hopefully that's within a couple weeks."

Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts last year for Seattle and finished third in the American League Cy Young voting.

McClendon proud to wear Robinson's number

MLB honors the iconic Jackie Robinson

ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon will proudly don Jackie Robinson's No. 42 jersey number for Tuesday night's game against the Rangers. And like every uniformed baseball player, manager and coach paying tribute to Jackie Robinson Day, he'll take an extra minute to think about the road Robinson paved 67 years earlier.

"Jackie meant so much to the game of baseball and obviously to minorities," McClendon said. "He's the main reason I'm sitting here today, because he opened doors that weren't open. It took a lot of courage. So I'll wear it with pride. And hopefully I'll look good in the uniform. I think it's fantastic."

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The 55-year-old McClendon played in the Majors from 1987-94 and has been coaching or managing ever since. He was a hitting coach with the Pirates in 1997 when Mariners center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. first flip-flopped his No. 24 and wore 42 on the 50th anniversary of the day Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And McClendon was a hitting coach with the Tigers in 2007 when Griffey asked commissioner Bud Selig if he could wear No. 42 for the Reds on April 15th of that year, the 60th anniversary of Robinson's historic game, even after Selig had retired the number throughout baseball.

Selig said yes that day and two years later, in 2009, made the move to have all uniformed baseball personnel wear No. 42 every April 15th. This is the sixth year of that occurrence and McClendon says it's an important reminder of Robinson's impact.

In McClendon's view, too many young players aren't aware of anything beyond their own experiences.

"There's a lot of that," McClendon said. "I had one of my kids in the cage and was talking to him about Magglio Ordonez and he was like, 'Who was Magglio Ordonez?' So yeah, they don't know a lot about the history. And I don't really blame it all on them.

"I think their generation is a generation that was force-fed iPhones and computers, and everything is now," he said. "There's not much of an appreciation for the past and what it meant, particularly when it comes to baseball and baseball players. The paths that were paved for them, I don't think they really get it or understand it. So yeah, it's good to just give them a little bit of a reminder of what it was like."

Players are definitely aware of Robinson's story, however, particularly on a Mariners team where Griffey played a major role in everyone wearing his number. Felix Hernandez said he's talked to Griffey about that in the past.

"It means a lot," Hernandez said. "Because of that guy, we're here. It's really important and it's an honor to wear No. 42."

Morrison day to day with sore hamstring

LAA@SEA: Morrison makes a nice sliding catch

ARLINGTON -- Logan Morrison wasn't in the Mariners' lineup Tuesday because Seattle was facing a left-handed starter in Robbie Ross, but the right fielder would have been unlikely to play anyway after his right hamstring tightened up just prior to Monday's first pitch.

"In an emergency, yeah, he might play," manager Lloyd McClendon said prior to Tuesday's game. "Right now they're telling me it's day to day. But we'll see how it is again tomorrow."

Morrison was in the starting lineup in Monday's series opener against the Rangers, but had to be replaced in right field in the bottom of the first inning by Michael Saunders even though he never came to the plate in the top of the inning.

McClendon said he had no idea Morrison was having any problems, which is why the change wasn't made until after Mariners leadoff hitter Abraham Almonte came to bat in the first inning when Morrison was already officially entered in the lineup.

"He was not iffy before the game. That was the problem," McClendon said. "If he was iffy before the game, I'd have never burned him and we'd have had an extra player. It literally happened when he came in from getting loose and Almonte was stepping in the box. That's when I was informed. It was tough."

Rookie Stefen Romero got the start Tuesday against Ross as McClendon continued playing the right-left matchups, with Saunders again available as a defensive replacement.

Morrison, acquired from the Marlins in December, has hit .150 (3-for-20) in eight games.

Pryor makes Rainiers debut

Top Prospects: Stephen Pryor, RHP, Mariners

TACOMA, Wash. -- In his Triple-A season debut on Tuesday, right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor walked the first two hitters he faced before getting a fielder's choice, a weak groundout to second and a strikeout to preserve his first save of the season. The Rainiers beat the visiting Salt Lake Bees, 8-5.

Pryor, whose fastball hit triple digits before he sustained a lat tear in April 2013, missed nearly all of last season following surgery in August. On Tuesday, Pryor's fastball topped out at 94 mph but was consistently clocked in the 90-92 range.

"I feel good. I would've like for it to be a 1-2-3 inning, but it was a positive inning for me," Pryor said. "I got myself in a jam and I was able to get out of it… I think velocity will take some time."

Worth noting

• Left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a 25-man roster spot for Tuesday starter Blake Beavan. Luetge made two appearances -- both against the A's -- after being recalled on April 9 and allowed two runs on one hit with one walk and one strikeout over one inning of work.

• Brandon Maurer made his first start for Triple-A Tacoma on Monday as he continues his recovery from a neck and back issue that sidelined him much of Spring Training. Maurer threw two innings and allowed one run on two hits with one walk and three strikeouts, throwing 49 pitches in an 8-6 win over Albuquerque.

• Triple-A Rainiers second baseman Nick Franklin went 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, including a tape-measure homer in the first inning, his fourth in 11 games. Franklin was replaced with Leury Bonilla in the seventh inning.