Mariners closer Fernando Rodney made one promise after learning Saturday he’d been added to the All-Star Game for the second time in his career.
“I’m going to have fun there,” Rodney said. “You guys are going to see. I’m throwing my arrow. No matter what inning I’m going to pitch, I’m going to throw it.”
Rodney will replace David Price, his former teammate at Tampa Bay, on the American League’s roster. Rodney leads the American League in saves with 27, and after a rocky start in Seattle has settled down to become a steady roadblock at the end of games.
Rodney has a 1.98 ERA this season and has blown only two of his 29 save opportunities. But he’s been even better as the season has progressed, in large part because he has thrown more strikes and gotten ahead in counts.
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In his past 21 games, since blowing a save against Tampa Bay in mid-May, Rodney has a 0.90 ERA and has given up 10 hits in 20 innings while recording 20 strikeouts.
“I know I put up the numbers to be there,” he said.
Rodney had plans to visit family, but he didn’t mind altering those to join teammates Kyle Seager, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano at the All-Star Game. It’s the first time the Mariners have had four All-Stars since 2003.
“I’m happy,” Rodney said. “I think that’s the best moment for me right now. It’s exciting.”
Pitcher James Paxton is on track to make his first rehab start for Class A Everett next week — taking a step closer to rejoining the Mariners after the All-Star break.
Paxton’s rehab start is dependent on how feels Sunday after throwing 53 pitches Saturday in another simulated game. According to manager Lloyd McClendon, if Paxton feels good Sunday he will start Thursday for Everett. If he experiences soreness, he likely will pitch a simulated game.
Paxton hasn’t pitched in a game since April 8 because of a strained lat.
“Everything feels good,” Paxton said. “It’s just one step at a time to get my stuff back to where it needs to be to pitch here, but I think after a couple rehab starts, a little more refinement, a couple of bullpen (sessions), I think it will be good to go.”
Paxton’s recovery has been a long one, but if he’s able to return at some point after the All-Star break, he could give the Mariners depth and options in the starting rotation. He had given up only three runs in 12 innings in his first two starts before the injury.
Paxton said all signs point to him starting his rehab assignment.
“For me, it’s just having that smooth delivery and finding my finish and my release point on all my pitches,” Paxton said. “As long as I have that going for me, I feel pretty good out there. So far it’s been really good, and I feel like I’m making good progress.”
• One of the reasons the Mariners elected to go with Jesus Sucre as their backup catcher instead of John Buck was to give starting catcher Mike Zunino more time off. Sucre made his first start this season Saturday against the A’s. Sucre is viewed as better defensively than Buck, and McClendon said he doesn’t have any concerns about using Sucre with any of his pitchers.
• McClendon said he can’t see a scenario in which Felix Hernandez, the likely starter in the All-Star Game, throws so many pitches that he won’t be able to start the Mariners’ second game after the All-Star break as scheduled.
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