Hisashi Iwakuma, who missed 10 weeks last season with a strained right lat, pitched two spotless innings in his first spring outing as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Texas Rangers 7-3 Sunday.
Iwakuma logged four groundball outs.
“That’s my game,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I was able to execute my pitches and they put the ball on the ground, so it worked out well.”
Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee, who hit 32 home runs last year and had 323 home runs in 15 years in Japan and Korea, made his initial Mariners start as the designated hitter, walking and grounding out twice.
Right-hander Nick Tepesch, a Rangers rotation candidate, yielded three runs on four hits and two walks in two innings.
“It’s hard to be successful when you’re constantly falling behind and trying to get back in the counts,” Tepesch said. “The biggest thing for me was not getting ahead early and putting guys away and having to fight and claw my way back into the count. I just didn’t make enough good pitches early on in the counts.”
Iwakuma was efficient, throwing 23 pitches, 17 for strikes. “It was my first game in a long time and I just wanted to get back in the groove and get a feel for every pitch,” Iwakuma said. “I felt like I was able to command every pitch on each corner where I wanted to. Overall, I think I passed the test. Yeah, it was good.”
The Mariners stole four bases with Tepesch on the mound.
“I was trying to mix my looks up and hold the ball,” Tepesch said. “I guess I wasn’t doing a very good job of that.”
Seattle’s Stefen Romero played the final four innings in right, his first action since Thursday when he suffered a right knee bone bruise. He went 1 for 2 with a RBI-single.
James Paxton will start for Seattle against the Diamondbacks after not giving up a hit in two innings against the Padres in his first appearance.
Utley suspension dropped
A person briefed on the decision tells The Associated Press that the two-game suspension imposed on Dodgers infielder Chase Utley during last year’s playoffs has been dropped.
Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached an agreement that rescinded the ban.
MLB has since reworked the rule on slides to cover the sort of play that resulted in Utley’s penalty. His hard, late takeout slide broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the NL Division Series.
Utley appealed, allowing him to keep playing in the postseason.
The six-time All-Star second baseman is now eligible to play when the Dodgers open the season April 4 at San Diego.
White Sox pick up Austin Jackson
A person familiar with the situation says free agent outfielder Austin Jackson has agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox.
Jackson played for Seattle and the Chicago Cubs last season, batting .267 with nine homers and 48 RBIs in 136 games. The 29-year-old Jackson also had 17 steals.
Jackson has played mostly center field during his six seasons in the majors, but the White Sox also have Adam Eaton in center. He also could spend some time in right with Avisail Garcia coming off a so-so season.
Eaton also is coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.
Tanaka sharp in Yankees loss
Masahiro Tanaka tossed two scoreless innings in his first spring appearance but the Yankees lost 6-5 to the Phillies.
Tanaka looked fine after having a procedure in October to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. The right-hander allowed two hits, walked one and struck out two.
The Yankees’ ace was 25-12 with a 3.16 ERA during his first two years in pinstripes. Both seasons were shortened by injuries.
Andrew Knapp hit a three-run homer in a six-run sixth for the Phillies. Austin Romine had two doubles and three RBIs for the Yankees.
Charlie Morton allowed one run and one hit in 2 1/3 innings in his first start for Philadelphia since being acquired from Pittsburgh.
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