Mariners fans can also be relieved to know that Hisashi Iwakuma will start this season in the bullpen. He was absolutely rocked after getting the start against the Giants; a game that was played early Monday morning while most fans in Seattle were still asleep.
Iwakuma's line, not pretty. (4IP 10H 6R 6ER 0BB 1K) Iwakuma said after the game, "I couldn't keep my tempo." After reviewing tape he also he noticed his elbow was dropping and the Japanese hitters who know him better than anyone else were able to identify this as a weakness.
One positive to take away from Monday's game was the performance offensively by Dustin Ackley. Ackley hit a solo home-run in the first and triple in the third. He was 2-for-3 on the day and accounted for two of the Mariners three runs.
Manager Eric Wedge said in the post game press conference that the team needs to regroup before the start of the regular season. "I feel like it's really important for us to have a buffer before opening day," Wedge said. "To be able to come here and work out and work out some of the kinks, have the discussions we need to have and get re-focused."
The Mariners have been undoubtedly preoccupied with so many things other than baseball since getting to Japan. Before yesterday's game, Ackley, Justin Smoak, and George Sherrill were visiting the United States Army base in Zama riding around in Blackhawk helicopters. Meanwhile Munenori Kawasaki and Michael Saunders were handling a press event at the MLB Cafe in Tokyo. Shawn Kelley tweeted a picture of him munching on a Krispy Kreme donut.
Regardless, there's a lot going on over there that can take away from the players ability to be rested and focused for a game. It's been non-stop since the team landed in Japan on last Friday. Wedge said about the trip so far, "It's a completely different atmosphere over here, a very different couple of days."
As they move forward and start the regular season Wednesday, the team will have to shift the focus to winning rather than site seeing. Having a guy like Felix Hernandez on the mound should help keep them from getting buried early and the off-day today will allow them to rest and prepare.
"When we turn that switch and get to opening day," Wedge said, "I trust in us being ready to go."
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