Mariners’ Paxton unlikely to return to starting rotation this week

SEATTLE — A return this week by left-hander James Paxton to the Seattle Mariners’ rotation looks increasingly unlikely after club officials chose not to have him throw a routine bullpen workout prior to Monday’s victory over the Angels.

Paxton reported some “typical” triceps tightness following that 62-pitch outing Saturday in a rehab start for Class AAA Tacoma. It marked his first game action since exiting an April 8 start because of a strained back muscle.

“Just a little soreness still from upping the intensity,” he said. “It’d been awhile since I’d been in a game.”

A best-case scenario called for Paxton to throw a bullpen workout Monday — standard procedure for pitchers two days after a start — and then replace struggling Brandon Maurer in the rotation Thursday against the Angels.

It now appears unlikely Paxton will throw that workout before Wednesday.

“We’re just waiting to see how I respond,” he said. “I’ll come in (today) and see how it feels. I’ll probably play catch (today), if anything.”

Manager Lloyd McClendon said: “I’m not sure what the next step is (with Paxton), but if there’s any soreness at all, I know we’ll be very cautious.”

Young motivation

Mariners starter Chris Young found motivation in the no-hitter by Dodgers veteran Josh Beckett on Sunday against Philadelphia.

“We had at the same surgery last year,” said Young, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning Monday in a 5-1 victory over the Angels. “I’m super-excited for him to see that.

“It’s inspirational. It gives me hope that I can continue to make the most of my career as well.”

The surgery addresses thoracic outlet syndrome, which is a nerve problem that puts pressure on a pitcher’s shoulder.

Lineup moves

The search of lineup snap and balance prompted McClendon to move Mike Zunino up another notch for Monday’s series opener against Los Angeles at Safeco Field.

Zunino had not batted higher than eighth prior to batting sixth in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Houston. He went 1-for-3, one of four hits in a weak surrender against Dallas Keuchel, and found himself batting fifth on Monday.

“We’re trying to score some runs,” McClendon explained. “Put him in an RBI situation and see if he can click for us.”

It didn’t work. Zunino went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts although, as McClendon noted, “We won the game.”

McClendon previously said he was hesitant to shift either Zunino or Dustin Ackley from the bottom of the order after Ackley went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts last month in two starts as the No. 2 hitter.

“I’m still hesitant,” McClendon said, “but we’ve got to do something to try to balance things out a little bit. I’m trying to be proactive.”

The Mariners entered the game averaging 4.10 runs a game, which ranked 11th among the 15 American League clubs and was more than one-quarter of a run less per game than the league average.

“We’re looking for balance,” McClendon said. “Obviously, we don’t have the perfect lineup right now, particularly when it comes to (facing) left-handers. We’re still searching for balance and trying to do the best we can.”

Through 50 games

Robinson Cano went 3-for-4 and has 65 hits through 50 games. Only two other infielders in Mariners history had more hits through the season’s first 50 games — although one of them, Alex Rodriguez, did it twice.

A-Rod had 68 hits in 1997 through 50 games, and had 67 the following year. Joey Cora had 66 in 1997. Next on the list, after Cano, is John Olerud with 63 in 2001.

Short hops

Cano was inadvertently spiked by Kole Calhoun on a force play at second base in the sixth inning. Cano remained in the game and doesn’t expect to miss any time. … The Mariners’ three steals in the second inning matched their previous best season total for an entire game. … The Angels, despite losing, still have 59 victories in the last 10 years at Safeco Field. That’s the most by any club at a visiting park in that span. … The Mariners are 18-16 against American League West opponents.

Looking back

It was 30 years ago today — May 27, 1984 — that the Mariners completed a remarkable three-game weekend sweep of Detroit at Kingdome with a 6-1 victory.

The Tigers entered the series at 35-5 and with a 17-game road winning streak, which remains an American League record.

The Mariners rolled to a 7-3 victory in the opener. Current Mariners hitting coach Howard Johnson had a two-run pinch single for the Tigers in the ninth.

A four-run first inning highlighted a 9-5 victory in the second game. Johnson went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Ken Phelps hit two homers for the Mariners in the third game. Johnson struck out as a pinch-hitter.

Those Tigers went on to finish 104-58 and won the World Series. The Mariners finished 74-88.

On tap

The Mariners and Angels continue their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. today at Safeco Field. Rookie lefty Roenis Elias (3-3 with a 3.68 ERA) will face Angels ace Jered Weaver (5-3 and 2.85).

Root Sports will carry the game.

The two teams also play at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday before Detroit arrives Friday for a three-game weekend series at Safeco.

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