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SEATTLE – Others might have tried to do as much, but it’s impossible to believe that any Mariners pitcher put in more work during baseball’s coronavirus shutdown than Yusei Kikuchi.
The Mariners’ main goals for Yusei Kikuchi’s first season in Major League Baseball were to keep him healthy and help him adjust to the increased intensity and competition compared to the Nippon Professional League in his native Japan, and ups and downs were expected. Still, it became obvious that what transpired in 2019 just wasn’t going to work moving forward.
Yusei Kikuchi needed just 96 pitches to complete a two-hitter Sunday that led the Seattle Mariners over the Toronto Blue Jays 7-0 for Seattle’s third shutout of the season.
The fourth inning told the story. Not just the story of Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, in which the Mariners dropped their 15th game in their past 18 tries. It told the story of the season, the story of a step back, of a 40-62 team that’s about to be sold for scraps at the trade deadline.
J.P. Crawford had a career-high four hits and drove in four, Yusei Kikuchi had his best outing in a month, and the Seattle Mariners used an eight-run third inning to thump the Baltimore Orioles 13-3 Sunday.
Shohei Ohtani homered and singled off Yusei Kikuchi in the Los Angeles Angels’ 12-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Whatever was smeared under the hat of Seattle pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, it hasn’t turned into a sticky situation for the Mariners, New York Yankees or Major League Baseball. A day after a dark substance was spotted under the bill of Kikuchi’s cap in a win at Yankee Stadium – possibly illegal pine tar – all sides kept cool. MLB issued no penalty or even a statement on the matter. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said his team would handle things behind the scenes.
At some point during this three-game series against Cleveland at Progressive Field, Mariners rookie Yusei Kikuchi hopes to have another conversation with Indians star pitcher Trevor Bauer.
It appears the Mariners have made a decision on Yusei Kikuchi’s next start and what pitcher they will bring up to supplement the innings needed to cover the shortened outing.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi is well aware his first season in the majors will be subject to additional scrutiny. Kikuchi’s rookie season is essentially an experiment, an attempt to see whether pitchers coming to the major leagues from Asia should be handled differently in their first season. The Mariners will regulate Kikuchi’s innings during the season while making sure he starts on a regular five-day rotation.
The two players and their manager walked through the underground tunnel that took them from the basement of the Tokyo Dome to the banquet room floor of the Tokyo Dome Hotel. The threesome chatted a little as a series of MLB and Mariners staff members served as chaperones for the short trip.
Yusei Kikuchi’s goal was always to pitch in the major leagues. The dream is now the reality for the newest starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. But in a twist, his debut will come in his native Japan. He will start the second game of the 2019 season against the Oakland Athletics in the Tokyo Dome next week.
Former Gonzaga standout will earn his first start on opening day.
Japanese free-agent Yusei Kikuchi made his debut for the Seattle Mariners on Monday, throwing two innings against the Cincinnati Reds in a start that featured a little bit of everything, from moments of dominance to working out of a jam.
New Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi is still getting used to the different ball in MLB compared to Japan, not to mention the unseasonably cold and rainy weather in Arizona, but sources say he’ll likely make his spring debut Monday.
If nothing else, the Seattle Mariners’ early arrival for spring training will give them a little more meet-and-greet time.
The Seattle Mariners have signed Japanese left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a four-year deal just ahead of the deadline for him to sign with a major league club or be forced to return to Japan for another season.