Paxton picks up strong in spring after last September

Paxton picks up strong in spring after last September

PEORIA, Ariz. -- James Paxton knows there's been enough bad news to go around when it comes to the Mariners' rotation this spring, with Hisashi Iwakuma and now Taijuan Walker sidelined with injuries.

So going out and mowing down six straight Padres batters in his Cactus League debut Friday served as the left-hander's best response for those wondering if there's any good news coming out of camp.

"It's great to go out there and be able to do that," Paxton said. "Those guys are going to be back quick. They're working hard and I'm sure they're going to be back really soon. That will be a big plus for us. But yeah, for the guys that are pitching right now, it's good for us to get out there and show that we're not hurting."

Paxton, 25, could figure prominently in the Mariners' pitching plans after going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four September starts last season, as long as he shows the same consistency this spring. He says he's "just trying to pick up where I left off last year." His first showing certainly reinforced that.

"Getting those four starts in September last year was big for me," Paxton said. "It was really a confidence booster, having the success that I had. That was big, and taking it into the offseason feeling good, just knowing I can go up there and do that and compete at that level, was a big plus for me."

Paxton said he threw mostly fastballs and cutters in his efficient 19-pitch outing, with just one curveball and no changeups.

"Those will come," he said. "I was just working on getting that fastball command back. I want to play with the cutter a little more to get it game ready. It was good."

Manager Lloyd McClendon was equally pleased.

"The young man has talent and he's capable of doing things," McClendon said. "He pounded the zone down and that was pretty impressive."

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