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March 11, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Paxton takes the hill

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That’s the newest Mariner, left-handed pitcher James Paxton, pictured throwing above (and sorry it’s a little fuzzy but thought it at least shows his form a little bit).
Paxton, a fourth-round pick in 2010 draft who finally signed a contract last week reportedly including a bonus of $942,500, had his first bullpen session this morning, throwing 30 pitches to bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.
He did so under the watchful eye of much of the Mariner brass, including general manager Jack Zduriencik, who said afterward: “Nice, very nice. Big body, good arm, good breaking ball.”
The 6-4, 220-pounder was a little erratic with his breaking stuff, and Phillips at one point tried to calm him down saying “don’t worry, no one’s watching.”
Paxton, though, said he took it all in stride.
“I kind of figured it was going to be some guys watching the new guy, seeing how he throws and stuff, it was exciting, a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoyed it. It’s all part of it. You can’t hide from it. It’s all there, just accept it and go out and do what you do.”
Paxton said he hadn’t thrown in about two weeks while going through the process of getting his contract finalized, so he wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t as sharp as he could have been.
“I thought my arm worked real well for not having thrown a bullpen in two weeks,” he said. “I spotted up the fastball a little bit. Kind of trying to find my release point on other breaking pitches and change-up but that will all come in time. Not really worried about that. Just trying to get the feel back for them and kind of find your release point and drop them in there for strikes.
“. … (They) wanted me to just go out there and get an easy bullpen in, 30 pitches, get a feel for it warm my arm back up again. But there is no such thing as going 80 percent. But felt really good. I was happy with where I was.”
The bullpen session is the beginning of what will now be a regular schedule for Paxton, who is likely to throw a few more bullpen sessions over the next week or so, then maybe a few simulated games.
“It will be great to get back into a routine and feel good to get going again,” he said.

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