Diamondbacks 6, Mariners 2, at the Peoria Sports Complex
James Paxton was scheduled to make his first Cactus League start of spring training Monday against the Diamondbacks, but instead he was forced to pitch in a simulated game once again. It’s the third time this spring Paxton pitched on a back field of the complex against teammates instead of facing another team in a Cactus League game for his scheduled turn in the rotation.
The easy and predictable reaction from fans would be to assume that he’s hurt … again. The big lefty has dealt with a slew of injuries during his career.
But it has never been about health. Major League Baseball sources confirm that Paxton has been dealing with issues in getting his work visa approved by the Canadian government since spring training started. As part of that problem, there was a scheduling conflict with his start Monday as well. But that issue is supposed to be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Paxton looked strong in the outing, not allowing much solid contact and showing good life on his pitches.
“He threw great today,” manager Scott Servais said. “I thought Pax was right on top of it, getting down the mound good, landing his breaking balls. He’s ready to go. I’m looking forward to getting him into some live competition against some other teams.”
Paxton’s next turn in the rotation would come Sunday vs. the Brewers in Maryvale.
Yohan Ramirez, who was making his first Cactus League appearance of the spring, struggled. He allowed two runs on no hits with two hit batters, a walk and two wild pitches.
Seattle scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning. Eric Filia drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and J.P. Crawford smacked an RBI single up the middle.
Right-hander Brady Lail gave up two runs in the ninth inning as Arizona added to its lead.
Player of the game
Ljay Newsome, who was scheduled to pitch in a sim game, made the start in Paxton’s place. He tossed 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
“I thought Ljay Newsome really threw the ball well. He has really improved. He went into the offseason and he wanted to tighten up his breaking ball and his secondary pitches. He’s always had a great command to the fastball. We’ve even seen the fastball velocity bump up a little bit. I thought he was really good today. He threw the ball just outstanding, doing what he does. He goes about it very quietly, but very efficient. It’s fun to watch him pitch.”
The Mariners will play their first of five night games in a row, traveling to Surprise to play the Kansas City Royals. Seattle will start lefty Justus Sheffield with right-handers Drew Steckenrider, Will Vest, Casey Sadler Brady Lail, Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton scheduled to pitch. Kansas City will start right-hander Brad Keller. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. Pacific. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Kansas City and on MLB TV for subscribers. The game will have a live radio broadcast on mariners.com and ESPN 710-AM.