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Paxton feels good in 'pen, sim game next

CHICAGO -- Mariners rookie left-hander James Paxton threw his third bullpen session since beginning his latest comeback Friday at U.S. Cellular Field and now will progress to a simulated-game situation against live hitting on Tuesday when the club returns to Seattle.

Paxton said he threw 52 pitches, slightly more than scheduled because he was feeling so good.

"I was actually supposed to throw 45, then we did some [pretend] hitters at the end," said the 25-year-old southpaw. "I was feeling really good, so they said do three hitters. I did and everything was great. It felt really good. I was loose, threw all my pitches today and everything felt good."

The youngster went on the disabled list after his second start of the season on April 8 with a strained lat muscle in his left shoulder, then had to be shut down again after making one rehab start in late May. Though no radar gun was used Friday, Paxton said his velocity felt fine as he let loose with his fastball.

"I'm really bad at telling how hard I'm throwing, but it was coming out real easy," he said. "I wasn't trying to throw hard, it was just popping out of my hand and making a good sound when it hit the mitt. So it felt like I was coming in pretty good."

Paxton said he even threw some curves as he worked through his repertoire.

"It was pretty good, a little loopy," he said. "But in bullpens, it usually is. You don't usually get that sharp one until you get some adrenaline going with hitters in the box. I'm not really worried about that. Just looking forward to the next step."

And that step will come Tuesday when Paxton takes the mound against some Mariners hitters. He'll get another sim game or more before being sent out on another Minor League rehab stint, likely after the All-Star break. Paxton was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first two starts this year and is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six starts since his Major League debut last September.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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