James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are ready to take the next step in their recovery from injuries.
Both young pitchers have been playing catch nearly every day for almost two weeks, and they’ll both soon throw bullpen sessions for the first time since landing on the DL. Paxton (lat strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Friday and Walker (shoulder impingement) on Sunday.
“Things have been going good. Really good so far,” Walker said after playing catch from about 90 feet this afternoon. His last 10 throws were pitches off flat ground. “This time it feels different. Everything’s been going smooth.”
Paxton, the big left-hander who was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his two April starts, said his throwing has been “all positive” the past couple weeks.
“Everything’s been feeling great,” Paxton said. “No pain back there. Feeling strong, so I’m going to be getting on the mound tomorrow to throw some pitches.”
MILLER STAYS AT SHORT: Brad Miller is starting at shortstop again, this against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy. Miller is hitting just .178 this season, with Willie Bloomquist getting some time at short against lefties lately.
“He’s not playing well right now, obviously,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Miller. “He needs to step it up and he knows that. We’re trying to get him relaxed and just go out and play this game. This game’s not easy sometimes. He showed signs of coming out of it; he’s getting a few walks, he got a couple hits, and hopefully he’ll have a good game tonight and turn the page.”
GILLESPIE BACK IN LEFT: Rookie James Jones got the first two starts of his career in Oakland this week, with three hits in seven at-bats, plus a walk and a stolen base. He’ll sit today against the Royals, with Michael Saunders back in center and Cole Gillespie in left.
“I’m not trying to hide (Jones) from lefties. It’s more trying to get the other kid in left field a shot as well. I want to see what he can do as well,” McClendon said.
McClendon was asked about his impressions of Gillespie, who is hitting .176 (3 for 17) since being called up from Tacoma on April 24.
“He had a good spring. I don’t know a lot about him,” McClendon said. “The at-bats he’s having haven’t been great here and obviously you only get so many chances to go out and show what you can do. That’s just the way it is at this level, so we want to make sure he gets that opportunity. It’s no different than the message I’ve sent to everybody else: At some point, you gotta produce.”
MORRISON REMAINS OUT: Outfielder Logan Morrison, on the DL with a right hamstring strain since April 16, has not been running well and is “still not ready to go,” McClendon said.