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Originally published April 21, 2014 at 7:37 PM | Page modified April 21, 2014 at 10:45 PM

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Mariners say James Paxton might not be ready to return until late May at the earliest

Manager Lloyd McClendon happy with James Paxton’s progress so far


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Mariners rookie left-hander James Paxton isn’t expected to return to the rotation until late May — at the earliest.

Paxton (2-0, 2.25 ERA) was brilliant in his first two starts of the season, but a strained left lat muscle landed him on the disabled list. At that point, he was scheduled to miss six to eight weeks, manager Lloyd McClendon said Monday.

“He’s coming along just fine,” McClendon said. “His workouts are coming along fine and hopefully he’ll continue to progress and be on schedule with that six-to-eight-weeks program.”

This is the first time the Mariners have acknowledged a timeline for Paxton’s potential return. In a follow-up question, McClendon was asked if Paxton would be back in the rotation at the end of those six to eight weeks.

“Well, we’ll see — (in) six to eight weeks he should be healthy and ready to pitch again,” McClendon said. “Whether or not he’s in the rotation, I don’t know.”

One of the other Mariners’ prized young pitchers, right-hander Taijuan Walker, is scheduled to meet with a doctor Wednesday. If all goes well, he could resume some light throwing later in the week.

“I’m just resting and rehabbing right now. … I’m feeling much better, though, the last couple days. Much better,” Walker said Monday.

Walker was scratched from his scheduled start for Tacoma last Tuesday after he woke up that morning with a sore arm. It was the same soreness he said he felt during spring training, when he was diagnosed with shoulder bursitis.

“Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll start throwing a little bit, start picking it up from there,” he said. “The big test is just throwing.”

Walker was sharp in his first two minor-league starts of the season, striking out 17 in 91 / 3 innings.

“I was throwing really good and I came off a pretty good start and I was throwing good and all my pitches were feeling great, and then I just woke up and it just wasn’t feeling right,” he said. “I didn’t feel normal, and I didn’t want to go out and push anything. I probably could’ve pitched, but it probably wouldn’t have been the smart thing to do.”

Walker was asked if he thought his offseason weightlifting program might have contributed to his shoulder soreness.

“You know, that could have been it,” he said. “I was doing kind of different, some overhead shoulder workouts. That probably could’ve started it up. But who knows what it was? It kind of just came out of nowhere.”

NOTES

• McClendon moved Dustin Ackley up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time this season and shifted Brad Miller down to ninth Monday. “We’ve been playing with the lineup the last three or four days trying to get a little more production (and) see how things fall out. Hopefully (Ackley will) give us a spark,” McClendon said. Ackley had been hitting mostly in the seventh or eighth spot this season. He entered Monday with a team-best .279 average in 17 games this season (17 for 61). Miller is hitting .194 (14 for 72), with three home runs and seven RBI. “I don’t really view anything into it,” Miller said. “Obviously, we’ve got to shake things up a little bit, and I get that. Ackley’s been swinging great. Get him up there and get something going.”

• Help could be on the way soon for the Mariners’ injury-riddled rotation, with Hisashi Iwakuma scheduled for a rehab start with Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday. There is, however, rain in the forecast, and it’s unlikely the Mariners would send Iwakuma to Tacoma if there’s a chance of a rainout.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com.



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