Updated: 03/02/2014 02:56 | By Agence France-Presse

Injured Iwakuma will miss Mariners season opener

Seattle Mariners all-star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will not be ready for the team's Major League Baseball season opener, team manager Lloyd McClendon said Saturday.

Injured Iwakuma will miss Mariners season opener

Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners in Seattle, Washington,on September 27, 2013 - by Otto Greule Jr

The 32-year-old Japanese right-hander learned Friday that he must keep a splint on his right middle finger for another three weeks to help heal a sprained tendon, doctors said.

Iwakuma will then need three or four weeks of preparation to be ready to compete, a timetable that would put him back in the Mariners' rotation in mid to late April, a few weeks into the season.

"We've got to get him healthy. We can't rush this thing," McClendon said in a posting on the team website.

"The doctors have assured us this is the right thing to do so we need to keep working forward with it. I know he is a little disappointed, but it's the right thing to do for his future."

Iwakuma will need about 20 innings of pitching in minor league games or simulated training outings before he will be able to take his place in Seattle's lineup, McClendon said.

Iwakuma had been ahead of schedule in rehabilitation with work on the mound and other training drills during the team's pre-season workout camp but doctors want him to keep his finger from moving to avoid a setback.

"I was honestly disappointed and frustrated at the same time, but you have to respect what the doctor says," Iwakuma said through a translator.

"I'll just have to wait three more weeks."

Iwakuma pitched a career-best 219 2/3 innings last year and was third in voting for the American League Cy Young Award as best pitcher. He ranked third in the league by allowing foes only a .220 batting average.

"You just have to move forward and come back as soon as possible and make sure I don't have any setbacks from coming back too quick," Iwakuma said.

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