By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
ARLINGTON, Texas — The next step for Mariners left-hander James Paxton, after throwing 53 pitches Tuesday in a simulated game, is a minor-league rehab assignment to test his recovery from a strained back muscle.
“I’m ready for it,” said Paxton, who left an April 8 start against the Los Angeles Angels because of a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle. “I feel like I’m ready to get into some games.
“I was letting a few more go today. It’s time to step it up and get back into that game mode.”
Right-hander Taijuan Walker appears one step behind Paxton after reporting no problems in his 35-pitch simulated game. Plans call for Walker to pitch one more simulated game before heading out on a rehab assignment.
“Threw everything,” he said. “Everything felt good. My mechanics felt good. It felt like everything was in sync. My balance point was good. One of the biggest things I’ve been working on is finishing my pitches to keep … stress off my arm. I think I did that today.”
Walker said his failure to follow through properly on pitches was a major cause of the shoulder soreness that first sidelined him in February, then resurfaced in April.
“I was standing tall,” he said. “So I put that in my throwing program. Everything I do, I finish it and over-exaggerate it, so that when I’m on the mound, I’ll feel that finish.”
The Mariners are about to take another chance on a recovering Tommy John patient, reaching agreement with veteran right-handed reliever Todd Coffey on a minor-league deal.
Coffey, 33, missed all of last season after undergoing reconstructive-elbow surgery but recently held a workout for scouts. Jeff Passan of yahoo.com reported Coffey’s fastball hit 91-92 mph with a slider between 82 and 84 mph.
Plans called for Coffey, who is recovering from his second elbow surgery, to head to Arizona to undergo a physical either today or Thursday. Coffey is 25-18 with a 4.10 ERA in 461 games over eight years with four clubs.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen carried a scoreless streak of 12? innings into the series against the Rangers. It was the longest current scoreless streak by an American League reliever. … Prior to Tuesday’s game the Mariners’ pitching staff was limiting opponents to a .205 batting average with runners in scoring position. Only Oakland, at .185, was better among AL clubs. … Tuesday began a stretch of 16 games in 16 days for the Mariners. … Outfielder James Jones entered Tuesday’s contest with at least one hit in each of his first 10 career starts. That matched a club record set by Edgar Martinez in 1987. Jones also had a nine-game hitting streak overall. No Mariners rookie has had a 10-game hitting streak since Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp in 2011.
Robinson Cano is featured in the latest installment of Major League Baseball’s “For the Love of Baseball” campaign. Here’s an online link to the 30-second spot: http://atmlb.com/1jzRxQ3.
Cano’s “sweet swing” is highlighted by superimposing six different videos of him hitting pitches in different parts of the strike zone. Previous spots featured Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, David Price and Mike Trout.
It was a year ago today — May 21, 2013 — that Angels outfielder Mike Trout became the youngest player in American League history to hit for the cycle in a 12-0 romp over the Mariners at Angel Stadium. Trout went 4-for-5 and his cycle came at an age of 21 years, 287 days. It was sixth time an opponent had hit for the cycle against the Mariners.
The Mariners conclude their two-game stay in Texas at 11:05 a.m. PDT today at Globe Life Park. Right-hander Chris Young (3-1 and 3.22 earned-run average) faces Texas right-hander Nick Tepesch (0-0, 1.69). The Mariners return home Thursday for the start of the season’s longest homestand: 11 games. They play four against Houston, four against the Angeles and three against Detroit.