The countdown clock on injured Mariners pitchers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker is about to enter an accelerated phase. Both are scheduled to start throwing this weekend from a mound in bullpen workouts.
“I’m anxious to get back on a mound,” said Paxton, who suffered a strained left back (latissimus dorsi) muscle April 8 while pitching the home opener against the Angels.
“Everything is feeling great. No pain back there. I’m feeling strong.”
Walker says much the same thing in his ongoing battle to overcome shoulder soreness, which surfaced early in spring training and returned last month after he made two minor-league rehab starts.
“I’ve been close a few times,” he said, “and then it’s been a step back. I think this time is it.”
The plan calls for Paxton to throw 25 pitches Friday from a mound. Barring problems, he will throw again prior to Sunday’s game. Walker is slotted to start throwing Sunday — about 20 pitches — from a mound.
“After that,” trainer Rick Griffin said, “they’ll probably go every other day for a couple of times. We usually like them to throw three bullpens. After they get through three bullpens, we’ll have them do a sim game.”
After a simulated game, if no problems surface, the next step is usually a minor-league rehab assignment, which can last up to 30 days for pitchers. (It is limited to 20 days for non-pitchers)