Iwakuma still questionable for next start

Mariners already have three starters on the disabled list

Iwakuma still questionable for next start

SEATTLE -- The Mariners beleaguered rotation could have another question mark next week as veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is dealing with a bruised left knee that is still stiff and sore after being hit by a line drive in his last outing Wednesday against the Angels.

Iwakuma is slated to start Tuesday in Philadelphia in the opening game of an Interleague series, but manager Scott Servais acknowledged Saturday that start could be in jeopardy. And that's not ideal with the Mariners already minus Felix Hernandez, James Paxton and Drew Smyly from their original rotation.

"No, he's not 100 percent, I'll be honest," Servais said prior to Saturday's game with the Rangers. "Now what percent, I'm not quite sure. We'll know a little more [later]. We really need him. But nothing is for certain right now, where he's at."

Iwakuma sailed through four scoreless innings against the Angels before taking an Andrelton Simmons comebacker square on the knee. The ball hit so hard it ricocheted straight to first baseman Danny Valencia for the out. But after sitting between innings, Iwakuma gave up three straight hits -- a double by Kole Calhoun, two-run homer by Mike Trout and single by Albert Pujols -- before being pulled with a 4-2 lead.

After receiving treatment for several days, Iwakuma is still dealing with soreness in the "fat pad" below the kneecap. Servais said the 36-year-old would try to throw Saturday afternoon to see where he was at. With an off-day Monday, the club could move Ariel Miranda up a day to Tuesday to give Iwakuma an extra day's rest, but no decision has been made there yet.

"Right now we have fingers crossed hoping he'll be good to go," Servais said.

Cishek headed back out on rehab assignment

Reliever Steve Cishek threw a second bullpen under the watch of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. on Friday and said Saturday that everything went well and he expects to return to a Minor League rehab -- likely with Triple-A Tacoma -- next week when the Mariners hit the road to Philadelphia and Toronto.

Servais said the Mariners won't rush Cishek, despite the need for bullpen help, as he returns from microfracture hip surgery in October.

"He's got to be in a good spot when he comes back," Servais said. "I don't want to just fire him out there if he's not comfortable and not throwing strikes and can't get his secondary pitches over. That doesn't help us. He wants to get out there in the worst way. He knows where we're at right now, but he also is smart enough and been around enough to make sure he can help when he gets there."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.