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Lauren Smith: Mariners bringing back another former player in coaching role
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Lauren Smith: Mariners bringing back another former player in coaching role

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Astros Mariners Baseball

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma struck out eight batters in a 1-0 Mariners victory over the Houston Astros in July 2016.

The Mariners are bringing back another former player in a coaching role ahead of the 2021 season.

Hisashi Iwakuma, who pitched six seasons for Seattle from 2012-17, and was an All-Star in 2013, will join the club as a special assignment coach, the Mariners announced Tuesday.

His new role will begin in Arizona this spring.

“Kuma has demonstrated throughout his career skills that we think will make him a perfect fit working with our coaches and players,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a release. “He was always prepared, has a terrific work ethic, and the ability to communicate the things that made him a successful pitcher. We’re looking forward to adding him to our mix at both the major and minor league level.”

The 39-year-old right-hander will work with pitchers at all levels of Seattle’s system. He will also work alongside Mariners scout Manabu Noto to continue the club’s scouting work in Japan.

Iwakuma, a Tokyo native, was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 Nippon Professional Baseball Amateur Draft by Osaka Kintetsu, and pitched 11 seasons in Japan for Kinetsu and Rakuten, compiling a 107-69 record and 3.25 ERA across 226 games (225 starts).

He was the Pacific League MVP in 2008 and a gold medalist with Japan’s national team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He also pitched in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Iwakuma joined the Mariners in 2012 and compiled a 63-39 record and 3.42 ERA across 150 appearances (136 starts) in his six seasons. His career ERA is tied for the lowest in club history among pitchers who have reached 500 innings, joining Randy Johnson, Felix Hernandez and James Paxton.

Iwakuma became the second Japan native to throw a no-hitter in the majors in 2015 against the Orioles.

It was the fifth no-hitter in Seattle history.

He becomes the latest former player to return to the Mariners in a new role. Other former players, such as Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Dan Wilson and Mike Cameron, among others, have also been with the team in recent years in coaching or advisory roles.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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