Paxton likely shut down with torn fingernail
SEATTLE -- The Mariners had hoped left-hander James Paxton would be able to add to his innings total with a full slate of September starts and salvage at least the final month of a season shortened by a strained left middle finger.
But as of Tuesday afternoon, it appears that won't be the case. After announcing Monday that Paxton had a "50-50" chance of making one more start before the end of the season, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Tuesday that the left-hander, who has been working his way back from a torn left middle fingernail, will "probably not" pitch in the Mariners' final five games.
Paxton was pulled from his Thursday start against the Royals after just 1 1/3 innings and 33 pitches with the fingernail injury and has been using glue in the meantime to keep the nail intact. He expects to resume throwing in the next couple days.
"Yeah, I gotta play some catch to see how it feels," Paxton said. "I was told to kind of take it easy playing catch, just to test out the glue the next little bit and get ready to pitch [in the Arizona Fall League]."
The left-hander made 10 starts to open the season and three more after his return in September, totaling 67 Major League innings. Paxton said Tuesday he hopes to build to around 100 innings with AFL and winter league starts but estimated he wouldn't pitch much beyond mid-November to allow for enough recovery time before Spring Training. Until then, he said he will work on trying to regain the form that has allowed him to post a 3.16 ERA in 30 Major League starts.
"Hopefully this nail stays on, and obviously I just want to work on throwing strikes," Paxton said of his expectations for the AFL. "Just a few pitches I want to work on, like my cutter, changeup and everything, really. Throwing my curveball for strikes early in the count, behind in the count."
Doctors have told Paxton the nail will not have to be removed and that it should look normal again with three or four months of natural growth. For now, he'll use the glue to get through a full AFL season.
"I'm ready to be healthy and have a full season ahead of me," Paxton said.
• McClendon reiterated Wednesday's game would be an all-hands-on-deck bullpen game, but declined to announce which of his relievers would get the nod for the series finale against the Astros.
"That won't happen today," McClendon said of the decision. "They won't know until tomorrow."
• With Paxton out of the mix, Roenis Elias will likely get the ball for Sunday's season finale against Oakland, though McClendon hasn't announced in which order Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch to open the series on Friday and Saturday.
"I haven't talked to Felix yet," McClendon said. "I'll make that determination after I talk to my starters."