8/1/2014 8:00 P.M. ET
Paxton ready to make anticipated return to rotation
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- It's been almost four months since James Paxton last stepped on the mound for the Mariners, so the rookie left-hander is ready and raring to make his return Saturday when Seattle will take him off the 60-day disabled list to start against the Orioles.
Paxton has been sidelined since his second start of the season after dealing with a strained lat muscle and soreness in his shoulder over an extended rehab.
"I'm real excited to go out there and compete again," said the 25-year-old Paxton, who is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six career starts. "It's been a long road, but I'm just really excited to be back up here."
Paxton insists those nerves won't be a hindrance.
"It's funny. I'm always nervous and excited before I pitch," Paxton said. "That's just the way it is. And I love that feeling. I feel like being nervous makes me better, makes me focus more. I'm just excited to get back out there and get that feeling and pitch again."
Manager Lloyd McClendon is eager to have the lanky lefty back in his rotation as well, after seeing Paxton go 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first two starts against the Angels in early April.
"If he comes back and pitches the way he did out of the gate, it'll be a tremendous lift for the ballclub," McClendon said. "Obviously he's been missed, because he was dominating. People forget this guy was throwing 99 mph, and he's [6-foot-4] with a long arm span. It'll be nice to have him back."
The Mariners will need to make a roster move to open a spot both on the 25- and 40-man rosters to add Paxton. McClendon indicated it's unlikely the club will go with 13 pitchers, so that means someone from the eight-man bullpen will need to be optioned.
• Right fielder Michael Saunders will remain with the Mariners, taking batting practice and working out for the remainder of the series in Baltimore as he continues to recover from a strained oblique that has him on the 15-day disabled list. There was some thought he'd be ready to begin a Minor League rehab stint by this weekend, but McClendon said that's not happening.
"He's not ready to go out, not quite yet," McClendon said. "I think we'll probably reevaluate when we get home and see where we are. He's got to be 100 percent swinging and be able to throw to the plate with some action. And that's the last thing that comes. He's getting there. He's getting close, but he's not ready."
• Kendrys Morales was at first base Friday, his first time playing a position since being acquired by trade from the Twins. That allowed Corey Hart to be the designated hitter, which McClendon said is an ongoing option.
"Kendrys is very adept over there. He's more than capable of playing first base," McClendon said.