By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Well, sure, Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton thinks it stinks that his recovery is on hold after an exam earlier this week revealed inflammation in his pitching shoulder.
“It does,” he agreed. “It sure does. I was close, real close.”
Even so, neither he nor club officials believe this is more than a minor setback. All signs point to Paxton being able to resume throwing within a week and, pretty much, picking up where he left off.
“I don’t think it’s going to be (a major problem),” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been throwing. He’s built up. I wouldn’t suspect it would take him more than 10 days to get back to where he was.”
McClendon acknowledged Paxton will require “at least one and possibly two” minor-league rehab starts before he rejoins the big-league rotation.
That points to a mid-June return as a best-case scenario. Late June is more likely target — and that assumes no further problems.
Paxton reported some minor triceps soreness after throwing 62 pitches last Saturday in a rehab start for Class AAA Tacoma that marked his first game action since a strained back muscle forced his exit in an April 8 start.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam found a shoulder problem.
“I was a little surprised, actually,” he admitted. “But I guess that’s due to coming back after not throwing (in games) for a while. Upping the intensity was just too much, too soon maybe.
“I’m taking a little bit of time off to let it calm down. Hopefully, it won’t take me off the schedule for too long.”
It wasn’t just a career-long lack of success against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson that had outfielder Michael Saunders opening Wednesday’s game on the Mariners’ bench.
McClendon also believes Saunders, who was batting .378 with 10 RBI over his previous 10 games, performs best when given an occasional rest.
“Michael is an interesting guy,” McClendon said. “I have to pick and choose my spots to make sure that we rest him. I’m sure he doesn’t like it from time to time, but we’ll continue to do that.”
Wednesday seemed like a good time because Saunders is 3-for-23 in his career against Wilson.
“I think if he’s rested,” McClendon said, “(Saunders) he’s a pretty darn good ballplayer. When he fatigues a little bit, we probably need to get him out of there and give him a day or two (off).”
Stefen Romero, a right-handed hitter, replaced Saunders in right field and as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.
Veteran outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady passed his physical after agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Mariners and reported to the organization’s extended spring training group in Peoria, Ariz.
“This guy is a professional,” said McClendon, who pushed for the signing. “He’s gotten off to a slow start this year. He didn’t get a lot of at-bats. I think it’s worth a look.”
Nady, 35, chose to become a free agent earlier this month rather than accept an outright assignment by San Diego to Class AAA El Paso. He was just 5-for-37 in 22 games for the Padres prior to being designated for assignment.
“He’ll go to Arizona and get some at-bats,” McClendon said. “Then we’ll get him to Triple-A and get him up to speed. We’ll see where we are.”
The Mariners see Nady as a low-risk option in their efforts to add some right-handed punch to their lineup. He has slash of .268 average with 104 homers and 410 RBI in 961 games over 12 seasons with eight teams.
Nady spent last season at Class AAA in the Kansas City and Colorado systems before signing in January with the Padres as a free agent..
There is no emerging consensus — no surprise — for what the Mariners will do with their first-round pick when Major League Baseball begins its annual draft on June 5.
ESPN.com analyst Keith Law, in his latest mock draft, suggests the Mariners will select catcher Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego with the sixth overall pick.
The projection isn’t accompanied by much confidence.
“As usual, no one seems to really know what Seattle is doing,” Law writes, “and I’ve heard them on Jackson, Aaron Nola, Michael Conforto, Bradley Zimmer, Grant Holmes and Trea Turner, as well as Sean Newcomb, whom GM Jack Zduriencik flew cross-country to see when I saw Newcomb at Stony Brook earlier this month.
“Jackson has been rumored to be their target all spring, though.”
The Angels recalled right-hander Matt Shoemaker from Class AAA Salt Lake, which was playing in Tacoma, after placing reliever Sean Burnett on the disabled list because of an elbow injury. Shoemaker will start today’s series finale. Backup catcher John Buck started as the designated hitter, for the first time this season, to get another right-handed bat into the lineup. … The Mariners entered Wednesday with a 14-12 record in May with four games remaining in the month. They’ve had a winning May record only twice in the last 10 years— 16-14 in 2007 and 15-11 in 2011.
It was 11 years ago today — May 29, 2003 — that Bret Boone hit his 200th career homer in leading the Mariners to a 10-6 victory at Minnesota. It came in the fifth inning against Brad Radke.
It was Boone’s 14th homer in a season in which he hit 35. His 14-season career ended two years later, and he finished with 252 homers, including 143 in his seven years with the Mariners.
The Mariners and Angels conclude their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. today at Safeco Field. Right-hander Brandon Maurer (1-3 with a 6.99 ERA) will start against Los Angeles right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-1 and 3.18).
Root Sports will carry the game.
The Mariners complete their 11-game homestand with three weekend games against Detroit, which is listing Justin Verlander, Drew Smyly and Max Scherzer as its starters.