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Interleague series brings new challenge for Paxton

Interleague series brings new challenge for Paxton

Interleague series brings new challenge for Paxton

SEATTLE -- James Paxton already is on new ground working as a Major League pitcher, but the young southpaw will travel even rarer territory when he steps into the batter's box in his next start Saturday for an Interleague game in St. Louis.

Paxton, 24, won his big league debut on Saturday, allowing just one earned run in six innings against the Rays. Now he'll pick up a bat when facing Cardinals rookie right-hander Michael Wacha in the middle game of the series at Busch Stadium.

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"I haven't hit since I was 13 or 14 years old," Paxton said. "They stopped me hitting as soon as I started playing competitive high school baseball. So that will be interesting."

Paxton took early batting practice Monday at Safeco Field along with Hisashi Iwakuma and Erasmo Ramirez, the other starters in the Cardinals' series.

"It was actually pretty fun," he said. "I took some swings in the cage beforehand, just to loosen up a little. I missed my first few bunts, but then I started laying 'em down and felt all right. I got a couple good swings in there. It felt good. But if I can bunt and move people over, we're good."

The native of Ladner, British Columbia, said he played a little first base and right field when he was in youth baseball in Canada.

"I was an OK hitter when I was 11 or 12," he said, "but after that it was just downhill."

The Cardinals' series will be Seattle's final Interleague action of the season. To date, Mariners pitchers are 0-for-16 with one walk and 10 strikeouts this year.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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