A quick note: I took some video and pictures with my Droid. The pictures are horrible. There's one more video I will try and add, it might only be slightly better. I'm going to Best Buy to get a camera tonight.
The area around the "six-pack" where the pitchers do their bullpen work was unusually crowded today. Why? Well several Mariners executives, including general manager Jack Zduriencik and president Chuck Armstrong were on hand to see recently signed draft pick James Paxton throws his first bullpen in a Mariners uniform.
"I kind of figured there would be some guys watching the 'new guy' and see how he throws," Paxton said afterward. "It's all part of it. You can't hide from it. It's all there. You have to accept it and go out there and do what you do.
Paxton threw about 30 pitches, showing good velocity on his fastball and a good breaking ball. He struggled to spot his changeup, which bounced in the dirt on several occasions.
Mariners bullpen catcher/coach Jason Phillips caught the bullpen and even yelled out: "Relax kid, it's not like anybody's watching you," after Paxton bounced a changeup.
"That was funny," Paxton said.
The comedic moment seemed to help Paxton relax a little more. He finished up strong throwing good, strong fastballs in the bottom of the strikezone.
Zduriencik was quite pleased with the first showing.
"Nice, very nice," he said of the session. "Big body, good arm, good curveball."
After throwing two bullpens a week in California for four weeks, Paxton hadn't thrown one in about 12 days as the signing process was being taken care of. So he was pleased with his first outing.
"I thought my arm worked really well for not throwing a bullpen for two weeks," he said. "I spotted up the fastball a little bit. I'm trying to find the release point on my breaking pitches and change-up."
Paxton was a fourth-round pick from last year's draft. He remained unsigned to last Friday when his agent Scott Boras and Zduriencik finally reached a deal for a $942,000 bonus, according to Baseball America.
Paxton said the plan is to throw a few more bullpens and then work into simulated games.