Over the years, Japanese right-handers Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish have become quite familiar foes.
The two faced each other six times in Pacific League games in Japan and were teammates on Japan's 2008 Olympic team and the 2009 World Baseball Classic squad.
Iwakuma will take the hill for the Mariners on Friday at Safeco Field as Darvish looks to continue his dominant April numbers for the Rangers in the 10th meeting between two Japanese pitchers in Major League history.
Darvish got the best of Iwakuma last year in Arlington as the winning pitcher in the Rangers' 9-3 victory on Sept. 14.
However, with a year of experience under his belt, Iwakuma feels confident that he can get a win in his first home start of the season.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two road starts this year and is 9-4 with a 2.64 ERA in 18 starts since moving into Seattle's rotation in midseason last year. He was especially effective at Safeco Field last year (6-3 with a 2.49 ERA), but will be pitching for the first time with the new shortened fences.
"I look at the positives," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "I think it helps our hitters a lot. So there's more expectations for our hitters. It affected us a couple games already, so I look forward to that. As for my pitching, with the fences in this year, I just have to be careful and be deliberate with my pitches to keep them down in the zone. That's what I look forward to doing."
Meanwhile, Darvish will look to stay hot in the month of April. Over the past two years, he's 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in seven starts.
Dealing with a blister on his right ring finger in his first two starts of the season -- both wins -- Darvish threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday and said he was able to throw comfortably.
"It was cold, but I able to control my pitches and able to do the work I normally do," said Darvish.
Rangers: Lowe remains in bullpen with Harrison on DL
• Even though Derek Lowe has been a starting pitcher for the majority of his Major League career, the Rangers decided to keep him in the bullpen, calling up right-hander Justin Grimm to start on Thursday against the Mariners.
Lowe, who made the team as a reliever, has pitched just one total inning over two appearances during the first two weeks of the season.
"I haven't built up enough arm strength yet to probably start," Lowe said. "Put it this way, it was never mentioned."
The spot in the rotation came open when the Rangers put Matt Harrison on the disabled list with inflammation in his back.
Mariners: Harang the newest member of the M's
• Seattle acquired veteran right-hander Aaron Harang on Thursday in a trade with the Rockies.
Seattle sent Minor League right-hander Steven Hensley to Colorado and cash to help offset Harang's $7 million salary.
Right-handed reliever Kameron Loe was designated for assignment by the team to make room for Harang on the 40-man roster.
"We have to get a feel for where he's at physically," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We have starters, so the fact he's going to bump somebody right now, I think is a little premature. But he is a starting pitcher and if he's in good shape and his pitch count is where we think it needs to be and his bullpen is successful, we'll address it after that."
• The Mariners placed outfielder Michael Saunders on the 15-day disabled list and called up Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday.
• The Mariners have received 12 RBIs from the leadoff position so far this season.
• Darvish was 2-2 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts against the Mariners last season. He lost both starts against Seattle at Safeco Field and had a 9.58 ERA in those games.