Iwakuma (shoulder) unlikely to return in '17

Righty starter has been out since May; Saturday's game time changed

Iwakuma (shoulder) unlikely to return in '17

ARLINGTON -- Hisashi Iwakuma is seeking doctors' opinions on his still-ailing right shoulder, and while Mariners manager Scott Servais wasn't ready to say the 36-year-old's season is finished, it's hard to imagine the veteran starter being able to return with just three weeks left.

Iwakuma, one of the American League's most consistent starters over the previous five years, has been sidelined since May 3. He made six starts to open the season and was 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA before going on the disabled list with what has been described as inflammation in the shoulder.

Iwakuma made two Minor League rehab starts in June before being shut down again, but has been throwing regularly at Safeco Field and faced live hitters in a simulated game Saturday.

The shoulder still hasn't recovered as well as hoped, however.

"He's exploring some other options, looking at his shoulder and what might be the best plan of action right now," Servais said. "I don't have a ton of detail on it. He was talking to a couple different doctors and getting opinions on where he can go from here. That's the last I've heard."

Is there any chance Iwakuma could return this season?

"I wouldn't rule it 100 percent out, but the chances are pretty slim," Servais acknowledged.

Iwakuma went 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA while throwing 199 innings last year, setting a career best in wins. He was the only Mariners starter to not miss a turn in 2016 and had a record of 63-37 with a 3.39 ERA in five seasons with Seattle before having injury troubles this season.

Iwakuma would have had a $15 million guaranteed option for next season if he had thrown 125 innings this season, but he'll fall short of that mark. Instead, he now has a $10 million club option for next year, with a $1 million buyout if the Mariners choose not to extend it.

Worth noting

• Servais said center fielder Jarrod Dyson was scheduled to have surgery on his sports hernia Thursday, though he hadn't heard yet how that season-ending procedure turned out.

• Saturday's game against the Astros in Houston originally was scheduled as a night game, but has been moved to a 10:05 a.m. PT start and will be televised nationally by FOX and will not be broadcast on ROOT Sports.

• With Mitch Haniger starting his 80th game in right field on Thursday, the Mariners became the third MLB team since 1913 with three rookies starting at least 80 games in the outfield. Ben Gamel has started 113 games and Guillermo Heredia 95.

Haniger's two-run homer

The last club with three rookie outfielders with 80-plus starts was the Royals in 1969 with Lou Piniella, Pat Kelly and Bob Oliver. The 1943 Philadelphia Athletics also had that happen with Bill Renna, Vic Power and Bill Wilson.

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.