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Paxton to open Cactus League slate

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners have set their rotation for the first week of Cactus League games.

Left-hander James Paxton will pitch Wednesday against the Padres at 12:10 p.m. PT in the opener, and Nathan Karns will start Thursday at 12:10 p.m., also against the Padres. Taijuan Walker is expected to start Friday at 12:05 p.m. against the Brewers with Wade Miley on Saturday vs. the Angels at 12:10 p.m. and Hisashi Iwakuma on track to start Sunday at 12:05 p.m. vs. the Rangers.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners have set their rotation for the first week of Cactus League games.

Left-hander James Paxton will pitch Wednesday against the Padres at 12:10 p.m. PT in the opener, and Nathan Karns will start Thursday at 12:10 p.m., also against the Padres. Taijuan Walker is expected to start Friday at 12:05 p.m. against the Brewers with Wade Miley on Saturday vs. the Angels at 12:10 p.m. and Hisashi Iwakuma on track to start Sunday at 12:05 p.m. vs. the Rangers.

"That's my game. First up and ready to go," said Paxton, who has been limited to 141 innings the past two seasons because of injuries. "I'm enjoying being healthy at the start much more than having to wait, so it's good. I'm excited."

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The starting pitchers are expected to throw two innings and around 30-35 pitches. Right-hander Donn Roach will pitch after Paxton on Wednesday.

"It's all [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre's] plan to work back from Opening Day and try to make sure everybody is in a good spot," manager Scott Servais said. "The key with starters is obviously to get them stretched out and let them build upon their pitches and innings."

Felix Hernandez, who threw 40 pitches in his first throwing session Saturday, will make his ninth Opening Day start of his career -- and eighth in a row -- at Texas on April 4. He's on schedule to throw another bullpen on Tuesday and then work up to live batting practice, a simulated game and eventually join the Mariners' Cactus League rotation in time to make four or five Cactus League starts.

Worth noting

Instead of playing intrasquad games, the Mariners have instituted a fun and competitive situational hitting contest with second baseman Robinson Cano serving as the captain of one team of position players and Nelson Cruz serving as the captain of the other team of position players.

"We will go back-to-back days of that," Servais said. "A culmination of the score from each day will determine the winner. The loser will be responsible for something. We have not quite yet determined that."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB.

 

Seattle Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma, Nathan Karns, Wade Miley, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker