Everything remains thumbs-up for ailing Mariners pitchers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker in their efforts to return to the rotation.
Both threw bullpen workouts prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Tampa Bay at Safeco Field.
“Great, feel great,” Paxton said after a 52-pitch session in which he “threw everything.” It was his third bullpen workout in his recovery from a strained back (latissimus dorsi) muscle and puts him in line for the next step.
“Sim(ulated) game on Saturday (in Minneapolis),” Paxton said.
Tentative plans call for Paxton to work two simulated games and then head out on a minor-league rehab assignment. (Pitchers face hitters in simulated games but take extended breaks to mirror game conditions.)
Walker threw 40 pitches in his second bullpen workout since the latest flare-up of shoulder soreness. He mixed in a few curveballs and cutters to an otherwise fastball/change-up repertoire.
“Good, really good,” Walker reported. “My fastball location was really good today.”
Plans call for Walker to throw another bullpen workout Saturday in Minneapolis. Barring problems, he should then be ready to move onto simulated games.