SEATTLE -- Rookie left-hander James Paxton threw 33 pitches in a two-inning simulated game against Mariners teammates on Tuesday afternoon as he continued working his way back from a season-long struggle with shoulder issues.
Paxton hasn't pitched in a regular-season game since starting the year 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first two outings in April, but said he's hopeful of beginning a second Minor League rehab stint soon. He said he'll throw a 50-pitch sim game on Saturday, then advance to either one more simulated game or go out for one rehab start with Class-A Everett before joining Triple-A Tacoma, barring any setbacks.
"I'm feeling really good," Paxton said. "I feel like I'm right where I should be, or better right now. My cutter was coming out really well. I was throwing it for strikes and my curveball as well. My changeup, I was getting in the dirt a little bit, but I'd rather be in the dirt right now than leaving it up. Another sim game and some rehab starts and I should be able to fine tune things and be ready to go."
Paxton has been down this road before, though. He went through the same steps and built himself up to a rehab start with Tacoma in late May, but was shut down again when soreness developed after a three-inning outing.
But he said he's feeling no issues now and was throwing close to full out on Tuesday.
"My first time coming back, I was definitely holding back a little in my first sim game," said the 25-year-old. "But today I was just feeling really loose and letting the ball go. I wasn't trying to muscle it by any means, but just feeling loose and fluid and the ball was coming out well."
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.