Iwakuma to start Friday’s game in Japan

Iwakuma, HisashiHisashi Iwakuma has been tabbed to start the second game of the Japan Series on Friday in the Tokyo Dome, with the Mariners right-hander throwing for the MLB squad against a Japanese All-Star team from Nippon Professional Baseball.

Iwakuma and Robinson Cano are the two Mariners on the 29-man MLB squad, which will play two exhibition games in Japan – the first on Tuesday and the last on Thursday, Nov. 20 – sandwiched around a five-game series against Japan’s All-Stars.

Iwakuma told reporters in Japan that he’s excited to be playing against his country mates.

“This is the very first [Japan All-Star Series] in eight years, and I’m participating in this event as a representative of Major League Baseball, so I feel very honored,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “I was really looking forward to coming back here as an American representative, so I’m very happy for that.”

It’s a bit challenging for pitchers to stay geared up over the offseason, which is why there are 14 hurlers on the MLB squad and specific rules to keep them from being overused. Pitchers will not be allowed to throw more than 80 pitches in any game, though they are allowed to finish at at-bat if it starts below the 80 mark.

If a pitcher throws more than 30 pitches in any one outing or appears in two consecutive games, he must have a day of rest before pitching again, though that rule does not apply for either of the exhibition games.

The games will be televised live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. Japanese time, which is 1 a.m. PT. The five official Japan Series games will also be replayed on tape delay at 6 p.m. PT on the MLB Network, or are available on demand to MLB.TV subscribers.

MLB.com writer Anthony DiComo is in Japan and doing a great job keeping tabs on things. His preview today leads with Cano talking about how much he’s looking forward to the games. You can read that here.

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