Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Paxton moves one step closer to returning to rotation

Mariners lefty James Paxton grabbed his elbow in pain last Sunday when hit by a line drive, but he threw Saturday from a mound and appears on track to start Tuesday against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Mariners lefty James Paxton grabbed his elbow in pain last Sunday when hit by a line drive, but he threw Saturday from a mound and appears on track to start Tuesday against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. AP

The last remaining hurdle for Mariners lefty James Paxton is the day-after test in his bid to recover from an Aug. 7 line drive that struck his elbow in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.

Paxton threw a bullpen workout prior to Saturday’s game at the Oakland Coliseum, which marked his first time on a mound since getting hit by that Andrelton Simmons’ liner six days earlier in the ninth inning.

"I felt pretty good," Paxton said, "and the ball was coming out pretty good. We’re just going to see how it responds (Sunday)."

Barring an overnight setback, such as renewed swelling, Paxton is tracking to start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

"He looked good to me," said manager Scott Servais who, with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., observed Paxton’s bullpen workout. "If there is a setback, if he doesn’t feel good, we’ll have to juggle some things with what we’ve got here."

That suggests the Mariners, if Paxton is unavailable, will use lefty Ariel Miranda on Tuesday because none of the club’s other starting pitchers will have sufficient rest. Miranda pitched six innings on Aug. 4 in a start against Boston.

"I feel like we’re on the right track," Paxton said, "but, obviously, (Sunday) will be a big day to see how it feels. I feel I’ve been taking steps forward every day. That’s good news."

Paxton is 4-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts since his June 1 recall from Triple-A Tacoma. He allowed one earned run over 16 1/3 innings in his last two starts. He also has a 2.17 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels.

CISHEK TO EVERETT

Plans call for former closer Steve Cishek to begin a rehab assignment Monday at Short-A Everett as the next step in his recovery from a torn labrum in his left hip.

Cishek experienced no problems Friday in a bullpen workout in Seattle — and no day-after issues Saturday. He was diagnosed with the injury after an Aug. 1 appearance against Boston.

Servais said he remains "very optimistic" that Cishek can return to active duty next weekend when the Mariners open a six-game homestand.

Cishek, 30, was 2-6 with 25 saves in 31 chances and a 3.40 ERA in 44 games prior to the injury. He said the problem first surfaced in late June and grew progressively worse.

Numbers bear that out. Cishek had a 5.02 ERA in his last 14 appearances.

ZYCH’S RETURN

Right-handed reliever Tony Zych gave up one unearned run, but no hits, in one inning Friday as the starting pitcher for Peoria against Surprise (Royals) in the Arizona Rookie League.

It marked Zych’s first game action since being diagnosed with tendinitis in his rotator cuff after striking out the side on May 1 in a scoreless inning against Kansas City at Safeco Field. He had a 3.00 ERA in 10 games prior to the injury.

Right-hander Evan Scribner, another rehabbing reliever, followed Zych in Friday’s game and gave up four runs in two-third of an inning.

It was Scribner’s third rehab appearance in his recovery from a torn back muscle in spring training. He had a 4.35 ERA last season in 54 games for Oakland before the Mariners acquired him in a Dec. 8 trade for pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill.

MINOR DETAILS

Double-A Jackson outfielder Ian Miller went 1-for-3 with a walk Friday in a 3-1 victory over Biloxi (Brewers). It was Miller’s 42nd steal in 43 attempts.

Miller not only leads the Southern League is steals, he also leads the Mariners’ organization. Infielder Tim Lopes, a Jackson teammate, ranks second with 20. Outfielder Leonys Martin leads the big-league club with 11.

The Mariners selected Miller, 24, in the 14th round of the 2013 draft. He is batting .255 with a .333 on-base percentage in 98 games for the Generals.

LOOKING BACK

It was 25 years ago Sunday — Aug. 14, 1991 — that Randy Johnson entered the ninth inning against Oakland at the Kingdome in quest of his second career no-hitter.

It wasn’t to be. Johnson yielded a single to Mike Gallego and also issued two walks before closing out a 4-0 victory and settling for a one-hitter.

Johnson finished his 22-year career with two no-hitters, including one with the Mariners, and four complete-game one-hitters, including three with the Mariners.

SHORT HOPS

Right-hander Taijuan Walker, who started Saturday for Triple-A Tacoma at Memphis, turned 24 on Saturday…Mariners Hall of Famer, and master trucks pitchman, Jay Buhner turned 52…the Mariners, through Friday, had been hit by 57 pitches, the most among American League clubs…Edwin Diaz’s 58 strikeouts are the most by any pitcher through the first 31 innings of his career since at least 1913, according to Stats, Inc…while the Mariners, by starting Joe Wieland on Friday, set a club record by using their 29th pitcher, they remain far short of the major-league mark. Texas used 40 pitches in 2014.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Athletics conclude their three-game series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (1-0 with a 4.71 ERA) will face Oakland right-hander Zach Neal (1-1, 5.25).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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