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Mariners begin spring with new Japanese import

By Bob Baum

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 12 2012 1:50 p.m. MST

Seattle Mariners' Munenori Kawasaki, from Japan, runs bases during spring training baseball practice on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, in Peoria, Ariz.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. — Spring training is officially under way with Seattle holding its first workout, and the team's newest import from Japan got plenty of attention.

Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (Hih-SAH-shee EE-wah-KOO-mah) did a small amount of running and a little defensive work, pronouncing Sunday's practice far easier than what he's used to in the early days of training in Japan.

The Mariners and Iwakuma agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last month, plus a little over $3 million in incentives. He joins a franchise already exceedingly popular in Japan because of the presence of that country's superstar, Ichiro.

Seattle started spring training a week ahead of other teams because it will open its season early, on March 28 in Japan against Oakland.

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