Seattle Mariners

Mariners notebook: McClendon says rookie can shake off shaky start by not shaking off catcher

Mariners pitcher James Paxton works against the Padres on May 12. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday and said he was hopeful he might still pitch in 2015.
Mariners pitcher James Paxton works against the Padres on May 12. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday and said he was hopeful he might still pitch in 2015. The Seattle Times

A day after Lloyd McClendon gave a blunt evaluation of Mike Montgomery’s start against the Rangers — “a bad outing,” the Seattle Mariners manager called it, adding “I’m very disappointed” — no words were minced in the skipper’s office Sunday morning.

At issue isn’t so much Montgomery’s pitches but his demeanor between throwing them.

“One of the things this kid’s got to understand is that when he came to the big leagues, the catcher put down a sign and he threw a pitch,” McClendon said. “Now he’s thinking too much — too much shaking off. That’s not acceptable.”

Montgomery surrendered five hits and three earned runs over four innings, taxing a bullpen that ended up going through six relievers in the 11-3, 11-inning defeat.

Asked about state of his team’s bullpen before the series finale against Texas, the manager used a word not appropriate for a newspaper.

“And you can quote me,” McClendon said. “We are who we are. We don’t have anybody.”

Actually, the Mariners’ options Sunday were right-handers Fernando Rodney and Carson Smith, with left-handed starter Vidal Nuno available in an emergency.

PAXTON UPDATE

Starter James Paxton, who has not pitched since leaving the May 28 game against Cleveland with a strained tendon in his middle finger, threw a bullpen session Sunday that made him optimistic about a September return to the rotation.

“The ball was jumping out of my hand,” Paxton said after his 25-pitch workout. “I felt really good. I was throwing about 80 percent and it was free and easy.

“It was the first day when I felt this is normal and we are on track. It’s a huge step. I’m going to be able to get on the mound soon and start throwing more offspeed pitches and get the feel for that, and then whenever they want me to go, I will go.”

While McClendon acknowledged Paxton was “moving in the right direction,” the manager doubts the left-hander will make another start this season.

Paxton, in any case, plans to pitch before 2016, preferably in the Arizona Fall League.

“I’d love to get back for a few starts and show myself that its still there and I can still do it,” he said. “I will have to go somewhere to get some innings. Hopefully, I can be done before Thanksgiving. That’s my goal, so I can have a good off-season program and be ready to go in spring training.”

LOOKING BACK

It was 35 years ago — Aug. 10, 1980 — when Dan Meyer’s leadoff homer in the 14th inning helped give the Mariners a 2-1 victory over the A’s at Oakland. Meyer’s shot spoiled the complete-game effort of right-hander Steve McCatty.

Three other A’s — Matt Keough, Mike Norris and Rick Langford — also threw 14-inning complete games in 1980. Manager Billy Martin’s reputation for overworking starting pitchers contributed to his dismissal two years later.

SHORT HOPS

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the eight runs Texas scored Saturday tied the American League record for most runs by a team in the 11th inning. The 1951 A’s, 1991 Rangers and 2002 Mariners also scored eight runs in the 11th. ... Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer in the eighth inning Sunday was his first at Safeco Field since June 17, 2014. ... Outfielder Ketel Marte picked up his first big-league RBI on a third-inning single off Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

ON TAP

The Mariners continue their homestand at 7:10 p.m. Monday as they begin a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Lefty Nuno (0-0, 2.88 ERA) will start for Seattle against right-hander Chris Tillman (8-7, 4.35).

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