Hisashi Iwakuma suffers strained tendon

Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

The Mariners starter will be unable to throw for 4-6 weeks as a result of the injury.

Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma has been diagnosed with a strained tendon in his hand and will not be able to throw for 4-6 weeks, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.

Iwakuma is coming off a strong 2013 season in which he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 219.2 innings pitched. The 32-year-old made his major league debut in 2012 after pitching for 11 seasons in Japan. He has a 2.84 ERA and more than three times as many strikeouts as walks since coming over to the majors two seasons ago.

Iwakuma's injury is an early blow to the Mariners' starting pitching depth. Last season, the right-hander formed a strong one-two punch at the top of the Mariners rotation with Felix Hernandez. Having spent tons of money in free agency this offseason on the likes of Robinson Cano and Fernando Rodney, Seattle is depending upon Iwakuma to replicate his 2013 form and help the Mariners contend in a loaded AL West.

But with Iwakuma's strained tendon, his preparation for the 2014 season will have to be delayed. It is unknown if this injury will prevent Iwakuma from being ready to pitch once the season begins, but the right-hander will have to accelerate his preparation once he does return from injury if he hopes to be ready for Opening Day.

Behind Hernandez and Iwakuma, the Mariners also have Erasmo Ramirez, Jeff Baker, and youngsters Taijuan Walker, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton as possible members of the team's rotation.

If Iwakuma isn't ready for Opening Day, then, the Mariners do have some solid depth to help carry the load without him. Nevertheless, the Mariners will be hoping to get one of their best starters healthy again before he potentially misses too much time during the regular season.

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