SEATTLE — Left-hander James Paxton has a simple goal Sunday when he takes the mound in a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma that marks his first game action in nearly three months.
"This first one," he said, "I just want to go out there and be healthy. Have no pain. I’m going to try to throw all of my pitches. Just throw strikes. Go after hitters. Get ahead of them."
Paxton is ticketed for 45-50 pitches over three innings when the Rainiers play host to Memphis (Cardinals) in a 5:05 p.m. start at Cheney Stadium.
"I’ve been preparing myself for it," he said. "Thinking about it. Doing some visualizations. Stuff like that. I feel like I’m ready for it, and I’m excited."
Paxton, 26, hasn’t pitched since he left a May 28 game against Cleveland in the fifth inning because of an injured middle finger that was later diagnosed as a strained tendon.
He was 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts when he landed on the disabled list. Plans call for him to make another start on Aug. 28 — 65 to 70 pitches — and then be reevaluated for a possible return to the big-league rotation.
"The second (rehab start) is when you start to fire it up, I think," Paxton said. "Get everything going. But the first one, I just want to feel good, get ahead and throw strikes. That’s the goal."