Mariners to extend Paxton in rehab start

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.

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