PEORIA, Ariz. — Spring training has officially started for the Seattle Mariners. Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Wednesday and the team had its first workout on Thursday.

One of those pitchers in a Mariner uniform wasn’t expected to be a part of the team a few weeks ago, but James Paxton found his way back to Seattle on a one-year contract. The deal was made official on Thursday.

Times beat writer Ryan Divish and columnist Larry Stone discuss the start of the 2021 season, including Larry’s spring training attendance streak of 30-plus years ending due to COVID-19.

The main topic is, of course, the return of Paxton with some details on how he came back to the Mariners on what is a team-friendly deal and past attempts to sign him to an extension. Why Seattle now? How will Paxton affect the Mariners’ rotation and their overall success as a team? Should they still look at Taijuan Walker?

The discussion turns to the bullpen and the signing of Ken Giles, who will miss the 2021 season while recovering from elbow surgery, to a two-year contract. Why make this signing? What are the potential benefits?

Larry and Ryan wrap their conversation with some thoughts on the passing of Hank Aaron and Pedro Gomez. There is also some information on fans attending Cactus League games.

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Also included in the podcast is the full audio from Thursday’s zoom press conferences with Scott Servais, Jerry Dipoto and Paxton.

Besides Soundcloud, the Extra Innings podcast is also available on iTunesStitcher and Spotify.