Paxton eyeing return to rotation on Tuesday

Paxton eyeing return to rotation on Tuesday

OAKLAND -- Mariners starter James Paxton was optimistic following a bullpen session Saturday at the Coliseum, saying he felt no pain in his left elbow nearly a week after being struck by a line drive from Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Whether Paxton will be healthy enough to start Tuesday against those same Angels will be determined by how his elbow responds on Sunday.

"It felt pretty good," Paxton said. "The stuff was normal. The ball was coming out pretty well. I think the big thing is to see how it responds after that tomorrow."

Mariners manager Scott Servais spoke with reporters prior to Paxton's bullpen session Saturday and said Paxton will start Tuesday "if everything goes OK." Servais watched as the lefty threw off the visitor's bullpen mound at the Coliseum for about 10 to 15 minutes.

"He has to feel good," Servais said. "It's not looking for the stuff. It has to be pain free, and seeing if the stuff is coming out of his hand OK."

Paxton was struck in the left elbow after throwing a 97.4 mph fastball to Simmons in the ninth inning of his start last Sunday, and fell to the ground before leaving the game. X-rays on his elbow were negative and he was deemed day-to-day with a contusion.

Paxton, 27, is 4-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts this season. He had allowed just five earned runs over his last four starts, including his outing against the Angels, where he surrendered just one unearned run in 8 1/3 innings.

Servais said the team will look for a replacement internally if Paxton cannot start, noting both Ariel Miranda and Joe Wieland are candidates. Miranda was initially scheduled to start Friday against the A's, but the team opted to use Wieland instead after Miranda threw an inning of relief in a 15-inning game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Wieland gave up six runs on nine hits in five innings, receiving the loss in his Mariners debut. Miranda is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in three appearances (one start), including a six-inning start against the Red Sox where he allowed two runs.

"We'll have to make a call today after that bullpen and go from there," Servais said. "If there's a setback or it doesn't feel good, we'll juggle things."

Servais also said the Mariners will start Felix Hernandez in their series opener Monday against the Angels on normal rest.

Cishek on the mend
Reliever Steve Cishek will make a rehab appearance Monday with Class A Everett, his first outing since being placed on the disabled list Aug. 4 with a small tear in the labrum of his left hip.

Cishek remained in Seattle while the Mariners traveled in Oakland to throw a bullpen session Friday. Servais said the team is "very optimistic" about Cishek's recovery.

The 30-year-old right-hander is 2-6 with a 3.40 ERA in 44 games, and is 25-for-31 in save opportunities. He's since lost the closer role to hard-throwing rookie Edwin Diaz, who has a 1.74 ERA. Cishek is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday at the earliest.

Seattle's bullpen has been strong in his absence, posting a 0.38 ERA over its last seven games.

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.