PEORIA, Ariz. — Lefty James Paxton tested his recovery from a sore forearm Monday by playing catch and is targeting Friday for his first official spring bullpen workout.
The Mariners put Paxton on a go-slow approach after he stumbled in an agility drill in a pre-camp workout. When he fell forward, he reached to brace his fall — and the result was two sore forearms.
And no throwing…until Monday.
“I’m ready to get rolling here and get ready for the season,” Paxton said. “I feel confident that I’ll have plenty of time to get myself ready for those (regular-season) games in April.”
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Paxton had been scheduled to throw long toss Monday before rain forced the Mariners to shift their workouts out of the elements. That rain is expected to exit the area prior to Tuesday’s practice.
“I’ll probably go out to 90 or 110 feet (on Tuesday),” Paxton said. “The plan is to take a day off on Wednesday. Then Thursday, I will throw again. And Friday, a bullpen (workout).”
The Mariners’ standard approach for pitchers is two bullpen workouts and two rounds of throwing live batting practice before getting into a Cactus League game.
That would put Paxton on pace to make his spring debut by mid-March and allow him to make roughly five starts prior to the regular season.
“I think we’re OK,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been off about a week. He was built up before then. We had a target date, and he’s certainly going to be back on the mound before then. He should be just fine.”
Rain forced the Mariners to cancel their only planned spring intrasquad, which meant those pitchers scheduled for work had to shift to bullpen workouts.
McClendon said there were no plans to reschedule the game. The Mariners open their 32-game Cactus League schedule at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday against San Diego at renovated Peoria Stadium.
But for those interested, here are the planned intrasquad lineups (no designated hitters):
*Second baseman Shawn O’Malley, shortstop Brad Miller, right fielder Jordy Lara, third baseman D.J. Peterson, first baseman Pat Kivlehan, left fielder Julio Morban, center fielder Austin Cousino and catcher Tyler Marlette.
*Center fielder James Jones, shortstop Chris Taylor, first baseman Jesus Montero, left fielder Ji-Man Choi, third baseman Carlos Rivero, right fielder Stefen Romero, second baseman Ketel Marte and catcher John Hicks.
IWAKUMA ON TARGET
The rain also forced Hisashi Iwakuma to settle for a throwing modified batting practice — hitters stood at the plate in a semi-covered area near the indoor batting cages but weren’t permitted to swing due to the confined area.
There was a hit, though.
Iwakuma plunked outfielder Gabby Guerrero in the back.
“It was a split-finger (fastball) that just kind of slipped out of my finger,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “I felt kind of bad for (Guerrero).”
Iwakuma is scheduled to make his spring debut Saturday against Arizona at Peoria Stadium. The Mariners have a split-squad doubleheader on Saturday; their other team is playing the Chicago White Sox in Glendale.
Right-hander Jordan Pries is likely ticketed for a return trip to Triple-A Tacoma, but he’s already drawn McClendon’s attention.
“I’ve been impressed,” McClendon said. “He’s been a strike-thrower. He shows a lot of poise. I’m excited about him being at the Triple-A level.”
Pries, 25, was 9-8 with a 4.06 ERA last season in 25 games for the Rainiers and was picked as the organizations’s co-minor-league starting pitcher of the year with right-hander Edwin Diaz.
“(Pries) certainly gives us more depth with our starting pitching in case we do have injuries,” McClendon said. “That’s a nice feeling. I can see why people in our organization like him a lot. He’s pretty good.”
It appears Angels right-hander Garrett Richards won’t be recovered from knee surgery in time to pitch in Los Angeles’ season-opening series against the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Richards won’t likely be available until two-to-three weeks into the season.
Richards, 26, was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA last season in 28 before suffering a torn tendon in his left knee while covering first base on a play in Boston.