GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood bolstered his bid for a starting spot in the Mariners' rotation on Tuesday, while Hisashi Iwakuma pitched three innings of shutout ball in relief in what might foreshadow his immediate future for Seattle.
Millwood, 37, gave up one run on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts in an 8-1 victory over the Reds at Goodyear Park. The non-roster invitee, who improved to 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four spring starts, has made a strong case for a rotation berth.
The Mariners like Millwood's veteran presence on a young team. The question has been whether he still can get Major League hitters out at this point in his career, and he looked good again Tuesday in that regard. Now the club must decide if it wants to bring the big right-hander on to the 40-man roster and make him part of the starting five coming out of camp.
Manager Eric Wedge said the team has some tough decisions to make in the next 24 hours before cutting the roster to 30 and heading to Japan on Thursday for a season-opening series with the A's.
For the first time, Wedge mentioned the possibility of Iwakuma pitching out of the bullpen. The former Japanese star gave up five hits in three innings to the Reds, but his fastball showed more life and he pitched his way out of trouble with three strikeouts and a double-play grounder in his final two frames.
"You talk about a couple veteran guys, obviously with a much different background," Wedge said. "But we wanted to take a look at Iwakuma out of the bullpen today and we wanted them both to pitch in this 'A' game. I was impressed with the way they both handled everything, the way Millwood controlled the ballgame and, obviously, Iwakuma coming in a different role."
Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas have the top two starting spots, while Hector Noesi appears a lock for the third spot. That leaves Millwood, Iwakuma, Blake Beavan and young Erasmo Ramirez competing for the final two berths.
Beavan has been strong all spring and Ramirez threw three scoreless innings in a Minor League start Tuesday, giving up four hits with no walks and three strikeouts while continuing his strong showing.
"We're looking at everything right now," Wedge said. "We're going to discuss everything when we get back tonight. Obviously we're getting down to crunch time. In reality, the next 24 hours we have to decide what we're going to do. We've had a lot of conversations this morning with guys. Most understand where they're going to be and if they're coming with us, but we still have some decisions to make."
Millwood made his case again Tuesday and will wait and see what happens next.
"I feel like I've improved every time out," said the man with 163 Major League victories on his resume. "The rest of it is not up to me. I feel like I've worked hard and done everything I can. But some things, there's no control over."
Moore gets good news from hand specialist
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Injured Mariners catcher Adam Moore saw a hand specialist on Monday and received relatively positive news, with the expectation that he will be able to resume hitting and throwing in about a week.
Moore, who broke a metacarpal bone in the back of his right wrist two weeks ago, said the doctor indicated the bone chip was healed, but still needed a little more time to play it safe.
"The fracture is gone and everything looked good," Moore said. "He just doesn't want me to jump right into it now and then aggravate something and, bam, I'm out again. So they're going to give it another 5-7 days. Then I'm going to go back and he wants to look at it again to make sure. If everything is good, I'll be free to go."
Moore has been doing conditioning and drills since the injury and even catches bullpen sessions, but he has to have someone else throw the ball back to the pitcher to keep pressure off his throwing hand. That has kept his legs in shape, but he'll need to regain his timing at the plate as he works gradually back from swinging off a tee to hitting against live pitching.
Moore won't be making the trip to Japan when the team leaves Thursday, but he figures he should be in full swing by its return on March 30.
"By the time they get back, I should be ready to roll," he said.
Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez is also not making the trip to Japan, as he'll stay behind to continue rehabilitating the partial tear in his right pectoral muscle. Gutierrez has done some light swinging of a bat, but has not yet begun throwing -- which figures to be the ultimate test for the injury he suffered three weeks ago.
The Mariners said from the start that Gutierrez wouldn't be allowed to resume full baseball activity for at least four weeks.
Darvish looks forward to first tango with Ichiro
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's still three weeks away, but the Mariners will face the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, for four games at the end of their season-opening road trip in early April. And that means a potential first meeting between the Rangers' new Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish and Seattle's veteran right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Darvish was asked about that matchup by reporters after making his third Cactus League start on Monday for the Rangers. And the 25-year-old expressed excitement about the possibility.
"If everything goes smoothly and it does line up like that ... he's a great baseball player in Japan and the United States, and I'll be looking forward to it and enjoy facing him," Darvish said. "But that's the season now, so I can't really talk about enjoyment. I have to think about ways to get him out. And I would like to go after him and try to get him out."
Ichiro, 38, is off to a good start this spring, hitting .385 with one home run and seven RBIs in 26 at-bats from his new No. 3 spot in the Seattle lineup. He'll be the center of much attention when the Mariners head to Japan on Thursday and spend a week in Tokyo, where they'll play two exhibition games against Japanese teams and two regular-season contests against the A's.
Some of the international hype will resume if the two Japanese stars square off in Texas during the April 9-12 series. Infielder Munenori Kawasaki, an eight-time All-Star shortstop in Japan, is also in prime contention for a spot on the Mariners' 25-man roster when the season opens.
"The attention, that's something I'm not going to think about too much," Darvish said. "The only thing I'll think about are the same old tactics to get those hitters out."
• Carlos Peguero hit his fourth home run of the spring in Tuesday's 8-1 victory over the Reds. With his four RBIs, Peguero moved into a tie for the Cactus League lead with Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs and Todd Frazier of the Reds.
• Munenori Kawasaki continued his strong bid for the utility-infield role with a 3-for-5 day that included a bunt single and two base hits, while playing both shortstop and third base. "He's done everything he could do to be on this ballclub," manager Eric Wedge said.
• Rookie catcher Jesus Montero gunned down Brandon Phillips trying to steal to open the game. Wedge reaffirmed that the youngster is making good strides behind the plate.
• Erasmo Ramirez threw three shutout innings with four hits and closer Brandon League was perfect through four batters as the Mariners used a Minor League contest Tuesday to get extra work for their pitching staff.