Paxton making progress in finger rehab

Mariners starter sidlined since late May with strained tendon

Paxton making progress in finger rehab

SEATTLE -- James Paxton has been doing flat-ground work without tape on his left middle finger for four to five days, and if all goes according to plan, he could throw 20 to 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Sunday.

"It's a wonderful thing," Paxton said Friday. "Ball's coming out well, jumping a little bit. No pain when I'm throwing, so long toss today, flat ground and I'm moving forward."

The Sunday session, which Paxton said would consist of only fastballs, would be his first work off a mound since straining a tendon in his left middle finger May 28 against the Indians. The 26-year-old lefty was placed on the disabled list on May 29 and did not resume throwing until late June.

"Just have to make sure there's no repercussions of not having any support [on Paxton's finger]," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "Last couple outings he threw without [the tape]. He was throwing pretty good."

In four May outings prior to the start that landed him on the DL, Paxton went 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA with opponents hitting just .174 against him. He is 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Mike Montgomery, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma to fill Paxton's vacant spot in the Mariners rotation, has made the first 12 starts of his Major League career count. The rookie left-hander has gone 4-4 with a 3.07 ERA and posted back-to-back complete game shutouts on June 23 and June 30.

Paxton has made just 31 starts over the last two seasons, also missing nearly four months in 2014 while recovering from left shoulder injury. While it doesn't mean a return to game action anytime soon, Paxton said throwing without tape and soon off a mound are steps in the right direction.

"Just [want to] make sure it feels good that first time out. Twenty to 25 pitches and then go from there," Paxton said. "We're making progress, that's for sure."

Worth noting

• Left-handed relief pitcher Charlie Furbush, who has been on the disabled list since July 9 with left biceps tendinitis, threw a 41-pitch bullpen without any setbacks on Wednesday in Denver. He is expected to throw another bullpen on Saturday before going on a Minor League rehab assignment.

"Last time he threw it was pretty good," McClendon said of Furbush. "The doctor was going to look at him and we'll see what happens."

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.