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Iwakuma's neck stiffness not likely to alter rotation

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SEATTLE -- Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma skipped his normal between-starts bullpen session on Tuesday due to a stiff neck, instead just playing catch on flat ground prior to the afternoon game with the Padres.

But manager Lloyd McClendon said he doesn't think the issue will be a problem for Iwakuma's next scheduled start Friday at Kansas City.

"As I speak now, he will not miss a start," McClendon said.

Iwakuma felt some tightness prior to his last outing Sunday, and he said he wasn't sure he was going to be able to pitch that day until trainers worked on his neck while he was warming up before the game.

But the 33-year-old Iwakuma went eight innings and allowed just one run on six hits, while throwing 106 pitches in a 5-1 victory over the Rangers.

Iwakuma missed the first month of the season with a torn tendon in his right middle finger, but he has gone 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts since his return. He's scheduled to face Royals standout right-hander James Shields on Friday.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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