Orioles have “interest” in Hisashi Iwakuma

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, still searching for another starting pitcher and also committed to increasing the club’s presence in the international market, remains interested in Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, according to an industry source.

Iwakuma’s name has been floated in the media over the past few months as one possibility for the Orioles, who signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year deal in December.

The Mariners also are in the hunt for Iwakuma, according to reports.

The Athletics won the rights to negotiate with Iwakuma last winter with a $19.1 million posting fee, but they couldn’t sign him. Their interest this winter doesn’t appear to be as intense.

Iwakuma, 30, was 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 17 starts with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with 106 hits allowed, 19 walks and 90 strikeouts in 119 innings despite being bothered by a sore shoulder.

Over the last five seasons with the Golden Eagles, Iwakuma is 55-31 with a 2.67 ERA, 725 hits, 157 walks, 607 strikeouts and a 1.130 WHIP in 780 2/3 innings. He went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA and five complete games in 28 starts in 2008.

Iwakuma, listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 lb., represented Japan in the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He’s been slowed by shoulder and back injuries in the past.

Duquette has mainly been focused on left-handed starters, including Taiwanese southpaw Chen Wei-Yin and free-agent Joe Saunders. Iwakuma would be an exception.

Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors tweeted earlier today that the Orioles were “in on” Iwakuma.

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