Zoning in on James Paxton


Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow:Joaquin Benoit.

It might be the biggest competition of Spring Training, and James Paxton is in the thick of it. With Opening Day bearing down, decisions will need to be made about who exactly slots into the back end of the rotation, but it may come down to the wire.

“I don’t have a problem riding it out all the way to the end,” Scott Servais recently said, in speaking to the race for the fifth starter spot, with Paxton vying for the role primarily against Nathan Karns.

Paxton is looking to prove himself coming off a couple years where he missed time. In 2014, a lat strain sidelined him from early April through early August. In 2015, it was an injured finger as he was out from May 28th through September 13th before a torn fingernail meant being shutdown with a week left in the season.

But when he’s in there, he’s had stretches that show he’s capable of being special—with none more tantalizing than the one he had immediately following his call-up in 2013. Paxton made four starts and put up a 1.50 ERA. In his last start, he twirled seven shutout innings against the Royals, striking out 10 and walking none.

It carried over into the 2014, when he took the ball in game two for the Mariners and struck out nine against the Angels in another seven shutout innings. The 6-0 record he ran in his first nine career starts is the longest winning streak to open a career in Mariners history. But he got injured in his second of 2014 start and, since, he’s been looking to regain that dominant form.

“I think it’s time for me to show that I can last an entire an entire season,” Paxton said in speaking at Fan Fest. “Knock on wood. Hopefully, I’m done with those (injuries) and can just move forward.”

Over the offseason, he took steps try to prevent future injuries.

He showed up to Spring Training 20 pounds lighter, thanks to an improved diet and an increase in agility work and interval training in his workouts.

“It’ll help me field my position better, move around and get to those bunts, cover first base on those opportunities where I have to get there,” he said in a recent episode of the Cactus League Report. “And also, just the injury thing, it’ll be easier to move my body around and protect my knees and my back and all that too.”


Off the Field

Paxton is a native of Ladner, British Columbia, which is not too far across the border from Washington—just north of Blaine and south of Vancouver. Being so close, he grew up a Mariners fan and would make it down to Seattle for games. His favorite player? Being a big left-handed kid, it was of course Randy Johnson.

Also, being a proud Canadian, Paxton is a big hockey fan—with the Canucks being his favorite team.

James Paxton got engaged this offseason to his now-fiancee Katie, and the date for the wedding is this coming November.








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