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May 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Saturday’s pregame notes and line-ups vs. the Twins

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It’s the same line-up as yesterday, which is the second time that’s happened in like a week.

James Paxton threw 36 pitches in a two-inning simulated game this afternoon. He faced Cold Gillespie, Stefen Romero, Logan Morrison and John Buck.

“It came out okay,” McClendon said. “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I suspect he’ll build on that. For his first time out, I thought he did okay.”

Paxton’s first pitch shattered the bat of Romero. He gave up a few hard hits. Cole Gillespie sent a rocket back up the middle against him. But it was still a success.

“It felt pretty good,” Paxton said. “It’s getting better from the bullpens. I left some pitches over the middle which you saw. But overall, there was no pain, my stuff is feeling good and I’m making progress.”

Paxton said he was throwing at about 85 percent of his normal game level.

“It’s hard to get the adrenaline going in these things,” he said. “It’s like when you throw these things in spring training. It’s a little tough. Overall, I felt great. I feel like it’s a big step forward.”

Taijuan Walker threw a 55-pitch bullpen session shortly after Paxton’s sim game. He was very pleased with the results.

“Everything was sharp but my cutter,” he said. “It’s the second time I’m throwing it in my bullpens.”

But the big thing is that Walker felt strong and healthy.

“My arm felt good,” he said. “I got stronger at the end. I feel like I’ve gotten better with each bullpen. My arm strength is building up.”

Paxton and Walker will likely throw simulated games on Tuesday in Texas. Paxton will go four innings and Walker will pitch two. Will Paxton and Walker head on rehab assignments after throwing two sim games similar to Hisashi Iwakuma’s schedule?

“I think Iwakuma was a little more advanced than these guys are,” McClendon said. “It was his finger not his arm. We’ll see how Paxton is as after this next one and go from there.”

Besides hitting in the sim game, Morrison also ran the bases under the supervision of trainer Rick Griffin.

“I think he’s getting close,” McClendon said. “He doesn’t seem to be restricted on the basepaths.”

When asked if he could tell the difference, McClendon grinned and replied: “He’s moving as slow as ever.”

McClendon isn’t worried about Cano’s lack of homers

With some NY media outlets and MLB network keeping track of the number of games Robinson Cano has gone without hitting a homer – 26 games since April 17 – the questions about Cano’s power numbers or lack thereof have trickled to McClendon, who shrugs them off.

“I’m not concerned about his power at all,” he said. “I challenge anybody to hit the ball as far as he did yesterday. What is it 415 to that gap? He hit the ball pretty good without a lot of effort, just flicking his wrists. I’m not concerned because if you look at the history of this guy, when it gets hot, he gets hot. He really turns it on. And he turns it on like you’ve never seen.”

How hot?

“He’s probably going to finish with 40 doubles, 25 homers and 100 plus RBIs,” McClendon said. “He hit a breaking ball yesterday. And it was as hard of hit breaking ball as I’ve seen all year. If he got that ball up, it might left the ballpark in right field.” (no video of that).

McClendon pointed to the two balls that have hit off the top of the fence this last week and two more that hit the wall on the fly.

“We are talking about four feet distance, he could very well have five or six homers,” he said. “His home runs will come and they will come in bunches. He reminds of Bonds – not in the sense of power – or Cabrera – they’re line drive hitters that happen to hit home runs. He’s going to hit his home runs.”

Maurer skipped in the rotation

The Mariners have released their pitching probables for the upcoming series in Texas and beyond. Brandon Maurer was not listed as a starter for the two-game series with the Rangers. With an off-day on Monday, McClendon chose to skip Maurer. He will be available as a long reliever in Arlington.

“Right now, we have guys that are throwing a little better,” McClendon said. “It gives him a chance to get rested up and use his help in the bullpen. And he’ll be back in there the next time.”

Maurer has shown hints of being a solid big league pitcher this season, but hasn’t been able to maintain it. Is he getting close to figuring it out?

“We hope so,” McClendon said. “Obviously, the next step is up to him. He needs to go out and get it done. We can talk about how close we think he is, the intangibles that he brings, his stuff, but ultimately he’s got to perform on the field. But to answer your question, ‘yes, I think he’s close to figuring it out.’”

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