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7/26/2014 4:35 P.M. ET

Mariners to extend Paxton in rehab start

SEATTLE -- Left-hander James Paxton's pitch count will increase to 75-80 in his Sunday rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma before joining the Mariners on their upcoming six-game road trip through Cleveland and Baltimore, manager Lloyd McClendon announced Saturday.

Paxton, 25, is on the 60-day disabled list with a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle, though he's made progress in his past two rehab outings -- one with Short Season Class A Everett during the All-Star break and another on Tuesday with Tacoma.

Paxton (2-0, 2.25 ERA) hasn't pitched in the big leagues since April 8, and the Mariners have only four starting pitchers on their 25-man roster.

McClendon maintained that he won't make a decision on Paxton until the Richmond, British Columbia, native makes another rehab start and throws his scheduled bullpen session on the road trip.

"We'll see how he feels after that," McClendon said.

Paxton has been incredible in his brief Major League career, going 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six starts since making his debut last September. But since April 8, his 2014 season has consisted mostly of long toss, bullpen sessions, simulated games and rehab outings.

While working his way back from the lat injury, Paxton experienced shoulder stiffness after a three-inning rehab start for Tacoma on May 24. That extended his stay on the disabled list.

Earlier this week, Paxton allowed three runs (two earned) over three innings in Tacoma's 4-0 loss. He threw 60 pitches, then went to the bullpen and threw 10 more fastballs, indicating he might be nearing a return to the big leagues.

Worth noting

• Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, placed on the 15-day disabled list July 11 with a strained left oblique, began hitting off a tee this week. McClendon said Saunders could accompany Seattle on its road trip next week, before adding that it will "be a while" before Saunders is healthy. Saunders became eligible to come off the DL on Saturday.

• The club placed veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week with a right knee contusion after Bloomquist was injured trying to leg out an infield single in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Mets. Bloomquist underwent an MRI on Thursday, the results of which haven't been disclosed.

"I just saw him hopping along the hallway," McClendon said. "It hurts like [heck]."

• Outfielder Endy Chavez was scratched nearly a half-hour before Saturday's first pitch due to a jammed pinky finger on his left hand. Corey Hart started in his place and batted sixth.

Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.