Mariners’ Paxton slated to pitch for AquaSox on Thursday

SEATTLE — Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton is tentatively ticketed for a rehab start Thursday for the Class Short-A Everett AquaSox unless day-after complications surface following Saturday’s 53-pitch simulated game.

“Everything feels good,” said Paxton, who is a recovering from a strained back muscle that surfaced in his April 8 victory over the Angels in the Mariners’ home opener.

“It’s just one step at a time as far as getting my stuff back to where it needs to be to pitch here. After a couple of rehab starts, a little more refinement, a couple of more bullpen (workouts), I’ll be good to go.”

Paxton pitched three simulated innings against Dustin Ackley, Willie Bloomquist and Jesus Sucre.

Tentative plans call for Paxton to start Thursday for the AquaSox against Salem-Keizer (Giants) before shifting to Class AAA Tacoma to continue his rehab assignment

Approach on Cespedes

File this for future reference:

Mariners closer Fernando Rodney offered a glimpse into the scouting report on A’s slugger Yeonis Cespedes in detailing his approach to their encounter in the ninth inning of Friday’s game with the tying run at second.

“I’m not trying to throw anything right in the strike zone,” Rodney said. “Just keep working this guy, and don’t throw anything off-speed because this guy has a long swing. He’s looking for something soft all of the time.”

Result: Cespedes was late on a full-count fastball, although he drove the ball to deep right field for the second out. That moved tying tun to third base, but Rodney closed out a 3-2 victory by striking out Nick Punto.

No Heat waivering

It wasn’t all good news Friday for Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. A devoted follower of the NBA’s Miami Heat, he learned (along with everyone else) that superstar LeBron James is leaving South Beach to return to Cleveland.

Question to Hernandez: So … you still a LeBron fan?

“I’m still a Miami Heat fan.”

But LeBron?

“I still like LeBron, but I’m a big, big D-Wade (Dwayne Wade) fan.”

Wade is the Heat’s long-time star guard.

Short hops

The Mariners entered Saturday at 24-13 against opponents who were .500 or better when the game was played. … Saturday was Hisashi Iwakuma Bobblehead Night. The Mariners had on eight of their previous 10 bobblehead night giveaways and entered the night at 18-21 overall. … The A’s recalled infielder Andy Parrino from Class AAA Sacramento prior to the game after placing infielder Alberto Callaspo on the disabled list. Callaspo suffered a strained right hamstring in Friday game while running out a ground ball.

Looking back

It was 11 years ago today — July 13, 2003 — that Willie Bloomquist hit the first of his 18 career homers. It was a grand slam against Tampa Bay right-hander Rob Bell that capped a six-run first inning at Safeco Field.

Bloomquist later added a two-run single in the 13-2 victory. The six RBI remain a personal best in his 13-year career. The slam is the only one in his career.

Also worth noting: The Mariners’ manager that day was Bob Melvin, who currently manages the A’s. The Devil Rays’ manager was Lou Piniella.

On tap

The Mariners conclude their three-game weekend series against the A’s at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Chris Young (8-5 with a 3.08 ERA) will face Oakland righty Sonny Gray (9-3, 2.97).

Root Sports will broadcast the game.

Sunday’s game also complete the Mariners’ pre-break schedule. They resume their season Friday against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

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