November 3, 2012 / 7:53 AM / in 5 years

Baseball: Japan's Iwakuma extends deal with Mariners

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has been given an extended contract by the Seattle Mariners, keeping the right-hander at the Major League Baseball club through the 2014 season.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma throws against Texas Rangers leadoff batter Ian Kinsler during the first inning of their American League MLB baseball game at Safeco Field in Seattle September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

The 31-year-old will also have an option for 2015, the Mariners said on Friday.

Iwakuma began the season in the bullpen before taking a starting role in July, going 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA over the final three months of the season.

He was 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 43 strikeouts over his last nine starts.

“Kuma really helped solidify our rotation in the second half of the season,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said in a statement.

“He is a competitor on the mound and did a great job for us. He got stronger with each start during the season and gained confidence.”

Iwakuma, who played a major role in Japan’s second successive World Baseball Classic title in 2009, joined Seattle at the start of 2012 on a one-year deal.

Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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