Paxton might return to the mound on Saturday

Paxton might return to the mound on Saturday

CLEVELAND -- The Mariners are still not listing a starter for Saturday's game at Baltimore, but rookie southpaw James Paxton is on the current road trip with the club and could be in line to slide back into the rotation after spending most of the season on the disabled list.

Paxton, ranked by as the Mariners' No. 4 prospect, will throw a bullpen session before Tuesday's game with the Indians after pitching 4 1/3 innings and throwing 78 pitches in his latest rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Tacoma. Paxton was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts in early April before straining the lat muscle behind his left shoulder.

"We'll see what happens tomorrow, then we'll make a decision," manager Lloyd McClendon said when asked Monday what comes next for the 25-year-old.

Is there a chance he will start Saturday?

"That's a possibility," McClendon said.

The other logical choice would be to bring Erasmo Ramirez back for another start. Ramirez threw well in his last outing for Seattle before being optioned back to Tacoma on July 22. He threw six innings while allowing nine hits and three runs in a no-decision Monday for the Rainiers and would be eligible to return on Saturday, if needed.

Players must remain in the Minors for 10 days after being optioned, unless they're recalled to replace an injured player. That rules out a Saturday return for Taijuan Walker, whose 10-day window doesn't expire until Sunday.

The Mariners currently only have four starters on their 25-man roster after sending Walker down following his July 23 start.

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.