SEATTLE — James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners are hoping a bit of caution now keeps them from dealing with additional problems later.
Paxton had a setback in his recovery from a lower back injury and was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday. Rather than coming off the disabled list to face San Francisco, Paxton remained on the DL dealing with the stiffness in his lower back. Roenis Elias started in place of Paxton, allowing two earned run on six hits in 32⁄3 innings.
“Just trying to be smart. I think I’ve made the mistake in the past of pushing it a little bit and then having something linger for a while and me not pitching at my best for a period of time,” Paxton said. “We’re fighting for postseason here. We need the best me out there to help us.”
Paxton was expected to be activated off the disabled list in the opener of a two-game series with the Giants. Seattle manager Scott Servais says Paxton is still experiencing soreness in his back after throwing a bullpen over the weekend and the decision was made to keep him on the DL.
Paxton threw a 40-pitch bullpen last Saturday and felt after that outing he was ready to return to the rotation. But a day later the inflammation in his back flared up and he still didn’t feel quite right after another throwing session.
“We just want to make sure we get this thing right before I go back out there and let it rip,” Paxton said. “If I go out there today and kind of re-hurt it or set myself back and make it linger I’m not going to get my best me out there pitching. I want to get to the point where I’m 100 percent out there and be good for the rest of the season.”
Paxton went on the DL on July 13, a day after he gave up three runs and got just two outs against the Angels. Staying healthy has been a goal for Paxton this season after dealing with a variety of injuries throughout his career. Paxton has never made more than 24 starts in a season. He made 20 in the first half of this year, going 8-4 with a 3.70 ERA and developing into the ace of the Mariners’ staff.
“We’ve got a big part of our season coming up and he’s certainly a huge factor in how we do, and his ability to carry innings and be as dominant as he can be. We’re going to need him,” Servais said.