Paxton on schedule to return late next week

Paxton on schedule to return late next week

ANAHEIM -- Left-hander James Paxton will throw a bullpen session on Thursday in Angel Stadium and then likely pitch a couple of innings for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday before rejoining the Mariners rotation late next week as he works back from a stiff arm caused by a line drive off his elbow in his last start on Aug. 7.

Paxton is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but he's pointed toward a return at some point during the White Sox series on the road next weekend as the club wants to make sure he's fully healed and has a chance to face live hitting in Tacoma after missing two weeks.

"It's tough," Paxton said of having his season put on hold while the team is fighting for a playoff spot. "Competitively, of course, I want to be out there and I want to pitch. But we also have to be smart about handling this because the rest of the season is more important than one or two games. So we want to make sure it gets taken care of and it isn't a lingering issue, so when I get back out there I can just get back to pitching every five days and being healthy."

Paxton had been the Mariners best starter in the previous month, posting a 1.65 ERA over his last four starts until an Andrelton Simmons line drive hit him squarely in the elbow in the ninth inning of his last outing.

"It squared me up pretty good," Paxton said. "I was feeling really good, on a bit of a roll and I just want to get back out there and keep it going and help the team any way I can."

The 27-year-old is 4-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts since being promoted from Triple-A on June 1. The Mariners could certainly benefit from his return as they've used 13 starters this season and currently are going with three newcomers -- Wade LeBlanc, Ariel Miranda and Cody Martin - -in the rotation behind veterans Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Worth Noting

• Former closer Steve Cishek gave up three hits and two runs with two strikeouts in an inning of work for Short-Season Everett on Wednesday in his second rehab outing since going on the DL with a slight tear in his left hip labrum. Cishek could rejoin the Mariners as early as this weekend, but whenever he does return, he'll work in earlier innings as rookie Edwin Diaz has cemented the closer role with his strong performance over the past two weeks.

Cishek will provide another good option against right-handed hitters as he's held righties to a .153 average and has 60 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP in 47 2/3 innings this season.

• Miranda, who gave up three hits and three runs in five-plus innings in his second spot start in Tuesday's 7-6 loss to the Angels, will get another start on Sunday against the Brewers. LeBlanc will start Friday night's series opener, Hernandez is going in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game and Miranda gets the call for Sunday's 1:10 p.m. series finale.

"Yeah, he'll stay in that slot," manager Scott Servais said of Miranda. "I thought he threw the ball well. [Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] has done some things, changing his grip and what he's thinking on his breaking pitches, kind of turning it into more of a slider. He threw a few last night and some of them backed up and some actually worked, but his willingness to try it is great. He's still a fastball/changeup guy. I like the way he threw the ball."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.