PEORIA, Ariz. — James Paxton estimates he’s done the drill at least 1,000 times in his baseball career. But the 1,001st wasn’t too kind to the big left-hander. About nine days ago, Paxton was doing an agility drill at the Mariners’ spring-training facility in Peoria, when he tripped, fell and injured both forearms.
The mild strains and bruises to them have kept him out of the first few official workouts and shut him down from throwing.
“I just bit it,” he said. “I caught my foot on the turf. It came up and grabbed me. I fell forward on my hands. There was a little bit of soreness, but I feel fine now. They’re just being careful. They don’t want to push me too hard. They want me to be 100 percent.”
Paxton threw the day after the fall and felt some soreness in the forearm, and the Mariners decided not to take any chances. He underwent a MRI exam and X-rays, but they revealed only bruising.
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“We aren’t going to push him, and (we’ll) just let it quiet down,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “There’s no sense in pushing it. He wanted to throw, but we wouldn’t let him.”
There’s little doubt about Paxton’s importance to this team. When healthy he can be dominant, thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a devastating curve. Last season he went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts. He missed close to three months of the season with shoulder and latissmus-dorsi issues. It’s why the Mariners are being so careful not to allow something minor to turn into something major or nagging.
“He’s saying he feels good,” Zduriencik said. “But we’re not going to make him come out and throw until it’s completely quieted down. It doesn’t make sense this early.”
As for the fall, the footwork drill is far from complicated. There are flat plastic rings about 18 inches in diameter placed on the ground in a line in, and the player is supposed to run through them with his feet touching inside the ring. It’s a basic drill and the first exercise of the workout, which is even more galling for Paxton.
“It’s just one of those crazy things,” he said. “I can’t explain it. It’s an unathletic moment for me.
And Paxton will continue to do the drill.
“I’ve done it since then,” he said.
The injury is minor but frustrating for Paxton. He spent all offseason in the Seattle area. He built strength in his shoulder, threw several bullpen sessions and even did hot yoga to improve flexibility. And then on one of the first days in Peoria, he got hurt by falling down.
“It’s like, ‘Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” he said, shaking his head. “You bust it to get ready, and something like this happens to put me back a little bit and it is frustrating.”
Paxton tried to put a positive spin on it.
“I worked so hard this offseason that a week off is probably good for me to let it rest and get ready for the stretch coming up here,” he said.
Paxton expects to resume throwing in the next couple of days.
Victor Sanchez update
There appears to be good news coming out of Venezuela regarding the health of Mariners prospect Victor Sanchez. According to a report from www.lavinotinto.com., the 20-year-old Sanchez underwent an electroencephalogram (EEG) test, which revealed some activity.
“It is a slight, very slight sign that there is hope,” Emilio Carrasquel, the Mariners’ coordinator of Venezuela operations, told the news agency. “I have been here since Friday, and today we heard good news.”
Sanchez was injured Feb. 13 as he was swimming off the coast of Carupano, Venezuela. A boat struck Sanchez in the head, causing multiple skull fractures and a hematoma on his brain. He has been in an induced coma. Doctors were able to move Sanchez from a hospital in Carupano to a bigger hospital in Caracas.
Sanchez went 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA last season for Class AA Jackson. He signed with the Mariners at age 16 in 2011.