TOKYO - Hisashi Iwakuma has decided not to pitch for Japan at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and will instead focus on preparing for his second season with the Seattle Mariners.
After signing a two-year contract extension with the Mariners last week, Iwakuma decided to sit out the March 2-19 WBC in order to get ready for his season with the Mariners, Kyodo news agency reported.
Iwakuma's decision is the latest blow to two-time defending champion Japan which found out on Tuesday that Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish has also opted out of the tournament.
Both Darvish and Iwakuma were instrumental in helping Japan win its second straight title in 2009.
The Japanese right-hander went 9-5 with a 3.16 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 125 1-3 innings for the Mariners last season.