Baseball's back! As we get closer to the regular season, stop by The Stew periodically for a helping of spring storylines.
HISASHI IWAKUMA GOT THE NEWS HE WANTED ON TUESDAY — the splint on his right middle finger can come off. He hasn't been able to grip a ball, only a towel, since getting his hand caught in netting behind the mound during a workout in early February. The Seattle Mariners still don't have a timetable on his return, but they are happy that his throwing program can begin — with a tennis ball — Friday. Reporter Greg Johns of MLB.com got Iwakuma on tape and here's what he said:
"To be honest, it's been a very, very long five weeks, I can tell you that," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "But the doctor said I could take that splint off and do more with that finger -- the actual rehab -- so that's a good thing. I'm looking forward to that. I've done everything I could for the last five weeks."
Iwakuma, who turns 33 in April, finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 2013, posting a 2.66 ERA and great peripheral numbers in his second major league season.
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THOUGH HE CLAIMS HE'LL "BE FINE," left-hander Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox pretty much had the worst start possible Tuesday afternoon against the A's. He faced nine batters without retiring any of them. And they all scored. His ERA jumped to 30.00. Dios mio, man. There's no way Quintana will roll through the regular season like he has the past two years if this keeps up. There's no injury, however, and he says he's not worried.
"I'll be fine when the season starts," he said.
Asked his level of concern, manager Robin Ventura said, "You think about it, definitely, because it's a couple of times now."
Jed Lowrie hit a three-run home run and Sam Fuld added a two-run triple for the A's in the first-inning blitz, during which the White Sox collectively threw 59 pitches. The A's won 16-6.
WIL MYERS CAME IN BATTING .154 BUT BUSTED OUT in a big way against the Twins, hitting three doubles in this first three plate appearances against right-hander Vance Worley. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon batted Myers in the leadoff spot, just for a change.
"Go up there and try to get on base," Maddon said. "Work at-bats and try to get on base. … Typically what we'll do during the course of the season with different guys -- try easier, stay in the middle, get on base, utilize your skills and that kind of stuff. I just want him to think differently."
RANDY WOLF'S COMEBACK CONTINUES for the Mariners, who got four shutout innings from Wolf on Tuesday against the Cubs. He also allowed two hits and two walks and struck our three. Wolf is 37 years old and sat out the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. He has a 4.15 ERA this spring and is competing with three others, it appears, for two spots in Seattle's rotation. Blake Beavan and non-roster invitees Scott Baker and Roenis Elias are also in the mix. Felix Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton are the top three, with Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker delayed by injuries, as is Brandon Maurer.
AS DOES THE COMEBACK OF MICHAEL PINEDA, who tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the New York Yankees against the Red Sox. He hasn't pitched since 2011 because of shoulder problems, but he's been great this spring, striking out 14 and walking one over nine innings. Against Boston, he threw 45 of 60 pitches for strikes and, catcher Francisco Cervelli said, his slider was much sharper than earlier appearances. His fastball touched 94 mph.
#Padres 3B Chase Headley (strained right calf, 2/22) will get at-bats in a Minor League game Wednesday. Will play in regular game Thursday.— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) March 18, 2014
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