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Paxton scratched, stays on DL with sore back

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- The expected return of left-handed starter James Paxton from the 10-day disabled list was delayed Tuesday as the Mariners announced long reliever Roenis Elias as the starter for the series opener against the Giants.

Paxton threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and had been cleared to return for his first start since July 12, but he felt some renewed soreness in his lower back on Sunday and the decision was made to skip a start.

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SEATTLE -- The expected return of left-handed starter James Paxton from the 10-day disabled list was delayed Tuesday as the Mariners announced long reliever Roenis Elias as the starter for the series opener against the Giants.

Paxton threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and had been cleared to return for his first start since July 12, but he felt some renewed soreness in his lower back on Sunday and the decision was made to skip a start.

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Paxton will throw a light bullpen session this weekend in Anaheim and if all goes well, rejoin the rotation when his next turn comes up on Monday against Houston at Safeco Field.

"I came in and played catch yesterday and it just wasn't quite where we want it to be," Paxton said. "There's still a little bit of soreness and a little inflammation in there. I don't think it's going to take long to get it out, we just want to make sure we get it right before I go back out there and let it rip."

Paxton threw just 17 pitches while giving up three runs -- and a pair of home runs -- in two-thirds of an inning before getting pulled with a stiff lower back in an 11-2 loss at Colorado in his last start 11 days ago.

The 29-year-old was placed on the DL just prior to the All-Star break, but now will wait another six days.

"We've got a big part of our season coming up and he's certainly a huge factor in how we do here and his ability to carry the innings and be as dominant as he can be," said manager Scott Servais. "I appreciate the honesty in coming forward with it. We'd love to have him out there, but that's not the case."

Paxton is 8-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 20 starts this season and has thrown 119 1/3 innings, which is already just shy of his MLB career high of 136 last season. He's missed considerable time with injuries over the past four years and is taking a more cautious approach this time with the hope of avoiding an extended absence.

"Just trying to be smart," Paxton said. "I think I've made the mistake in the past of pushing things a little bit and then having something linger for a while and me not pitching my best for a period of time.

"If I go out there and I'm using my arm more than I should and not using my core, I could hurt something else more seriously. If I hurt my arm, that's not where I want to go. So hopefully we get this thing taken care of and get back out there and go full bore the rest of the season.'

Elias threw 3 2/3 innings in the Mariners' 4-3 loss to the Giants, allowing two runs and striking out five.

Video: SF@SEA: Elias fans Duggar to pick up 5th K of game

Erasmo getting closer to return
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will make his second rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday and is expected to pitch three to four innings at Round Rock. The 28-year-old from Nicaragua threw two perfect frames in his first outing for the Rainiers as he returned from a shoulder strain that has sidelined him since early May.

Ramirez will likely make at least one more start next week for Tacoma and be stretched out to about five innings before a decision will be made on how he fits in for the remainder of the season.

"We'll give him the up-downs just in case we need to slide somebody in [to the rotation]," Servais said. "If not, certainly he's pitched out of the bullpen before, more of a length role. The biggest thing is to get him healthy, make him a real option for us."

Heredia honored for "Heart and Hustle'
Center fielder Guillermo Heredia was selected by the MLB Players Alumni Association as this year's Mariners' Heart and Hustle Award winner. It is the first time Heredia has received the award, which is designed to honor the player who best embodies the "values, spirit and traditions of the game."

"Guillermo plays the game of baseball with a level of passion that is both contagious and admired by all who watch him play," said Mariners outfield coach Chris Prieto. "His commitment to every pitch in a game reflects not only on his heart, but his gratefulness to be able to play this great game."

Fans, alumni and active players will eventually vote to select the final winner from the 30 team selections. Previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006-07), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015), Todd Frazier (2016) and Brett Gardner (2017).

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Roenis Elias, James Paxton