NEW YORK -- It would have been a red-letter day for James Paxton, the chance to pitch against his former Mariners teammates on the first anniversary of his no-hitter for Seattle last year in Toronto.
Instead, Paxton will be sitting in the Yankees' dugout on Wednesday resting his sore left knee and watching rookie Jonathan Loaisiga pitch in his place against his longtime Seattle club.
“I was looking forward to it,” Paxton said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, his new home after being dealt for a trio of young prospects last November. “It was really weird to be sitting in the dugout [Monday] night and [Mitch] Haniger steps up to the plate, the first guy up. Man, it feels funny to be going against the Mariners for the first time ever. But I was looking forward to facing those guys. It would have been fun.”
Of course, it’s not exactly the same Mariners that Paxton left after nine years in the organization. He was far from the only prominent player dealt away during general manager Jerry Dipoto’s winter makeover.
“There’s a lot of new faces,” Paxton said. “I was looking at the lineup, and [there are only] maybe four or five guys that I knew well. The starters are close to the same, but the bullpen is almost all new, too. It’s amazing how much turnover there was.”
Paxton is sporting a new face of his own, now clean shaven for the first time in eight years in order to meet the Yankees’ policy of no facial hair. That’s one of the many changes the 30-year-old has undertaken in the past five months.
He and his wife, Katie, now live in the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan with their new puppy, a mini goldendoodle named Duke. Paxton takes the subway to work most days, still unrecognized by most fellow commuters, a world away from his hometown of Ladner, British Columbia.
“It’s a big change, but I’m getting used to it,” Paxton said. “It’s still kind of weird to think this is my home, walking outside in the big city. It’s pretty cool, though. I’ve really been enjoying my time.”
After going 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA in his first seven starts, Paxton joined the Yankees’ lengthy injured list on Saturday. But he said his left knee inflammation isn’t a major issue, and he expects to start throwing again in a few days and work his way quickly off the 10-day IL.
But the injury undercut what would have been an interesting reunion on a very special day in Paxton's career.
“Man, yeah, that was a heckuva memory,” Paxton said of the no-hitter. “The thing I remember the most are the plays that were made behind me. How great a job [Mike] Zunino did behind the plate, Dee [Gordon’s] play in center, Kyle [Seager’s] play at third in the seventh; that one stands out big time. [Ryon] Healy’s picks at first base. Just all kinds of things came together. It was a really a team effort that day and really a special moment with those guys.”
Poulsbo woman selected as Honorary Bat Girl
Dianne Munroe, a West Seattle native now living in Poulsbo, Wash., has been chosen as this year’s Mariners Honorary Bat Girl and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Seattle’s game against the Twins on May 19 at T-Mobile Park.
Because the Mariners are in Boston on Mother’s Day this Sunday, they’ll hold their annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative the following Sunday, and Munroe will help kick off that event.
As a longtime healthcare employee, Munroe credits her interest in the latest technology for discovering her own breast cancer at an early stage in 2016 when the new 3D mammogram imaging at Franciscan Breast Cancer Center in Burien found a small lump.
Munroe had a lumpectomy in September 2016 and began a month of radiation therapy at Highline Cancer Center in November, and now she is cancer free, thanks in part to her early detection.
"I'm a big advocate for regular screenings, because I don't think people can rely on finding things themselves,” Munroe said. “I didn't have any symptoms. Even if you're doing regular self-breast exams, you can't always feel a lump yourself."
Starting this year, MLB is partnering with CrowdRise to host a fundraising contest for each Honorary Bat Girl to raise money to benefit Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) and Susan G. Komen.
The winning Bat Girl will receive a trip to the 2019 World Series. All funds raised through the initiative will be donated to SU2C and Komen. More information is available at HonoraryBatGirl.com, and the Mariners Honorary Bat Girl’s fundraising page is at this link as well.
Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc, sidelined the past three weeks by a strained right oblique, threw well on Monday in his third bullpen session at T-Mobile Park. He is expected to join Triple-A Tacoma soon to begin a Minor League rehab stint, according to manager Scott Servais.