Paxton healthy, building for regular season

Paxton healthy, building for regular season

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- James Paxton has been a little behind this spring after getting a delayed start due to a bruised left forearm, but the Mariners left-hander said he should be just fine for the regular season despite a bit of a rocky go in Friday's 5-1 loss to the Royals.

Paxton lasted just 3 2/3 innings on a night he struggled with his command, giving up five runs (two earned) on four hits, three walks and a wild pitch. But the positive side is he feels 100 percent healthy now and went to the bullpen at Surprise Stadium afterward to build his final pitch count to 80 after throwing 68 in the game.

"I think I might be finding my game-speed timing still, but that's going to come and I'll be just fine," said the 26-year-old Paxton. "Everything feels normal. My arm strength and where my body is at, I feel like I'm right where I should be."

Paxton threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut last Sunday against the Rangers, but that streak ended in a hurry when he walked leadoff man Alcides Escobar and then gave up a two-out homer to Eric Hosmer, who blistered a 2-0 cutter over the right-field fence.

The Royals rallied for three more off Paxton in the fourth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas and an eventual bases-loaded walk by reliever Matt Anderson, though all three runs were unearned after a leadoff error by second baseman Tyler Smith, one of two Minor Leaguers starting for Seattle.

"He was fighting his command a little bit," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I thought it came out pretty good and his fastball got better as he went along, so that's encouraging. He's building. It was encouraging in a lot of ways.

"I think his next start we'd like to see better, going into the season. But I was pleased overall. He came out of it pretty clean."

Paxton went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts last year in a season shortened by shoulder issues, so a primary concern now is keeping him healthy and getting him on line for the regular season. He said some minor tinkering is in order before his final spring start.

"My timing was just off a little bit," he said. "My mechanics were affecting everything, so I was spinning toward third base and everything was going up and away or I was spiking it. I just need to get back on line, finishing my pitches and everything will be just fine."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.