SEATTLE EAGER FOR PAXTON’S SATURDAY RETURN

Independent Baseball Insider by Bob Wirz, Vol. 12, No. 22, July 31, 2014

Seattle media has been touting James Paxton (pictured), who started his professional career in the American Association (Grand Prairie, TX), as the possible missing piece in the rotation if the Mariners are to improve on their position three games out of an American League wild card slot, and it looks like the 6-foot-5 lefty will take the mound for the first time since April 8 in Baltimore Saturday.

“In my mind, I’m ready to compete,” Paxton told MLB.com after three rehab appearances and a 45-pitch bullpen session Wednesday, his latest work since straining the lat muscle behind his left shoulder then having a setback in May.  It is no wonder Seattle is anxious for his return since the 25-year-old is 5-0, 1.75 in six major league starts, with two of the wins early this season.

Star Tilt Behind, Haerther Back to Chasing .400

While neither hometown slugger Casey Haerther (0-for-3, one walk) nor teammates could do little to impress the dozen scouts or 6,889 fans as the North team was limited to two hits in a 7-0 defeat in the American Association All-Star Game at Winnipeg Tuesday night apparently all the first baseman needed was a trip to Sioux Falls, SD to get back on track in his quest to hit .400.

Haerther, who had three years at UCLA and four seasons in the Los Angeles Angels farm system, joined the Goldeyes in time to hit .307 last year.

He dropped more than 20 pounds in the offseason, telling The Winnipeg Sun recently “I want to prove all the naysayers wrong.  All the people that said ‘you can’t do this because you’re overweight, you can’t do this because you’re slow’.  That’s major motivation.”

The 26-year-old has his average up to .391 after a single, double and two RBI in four at-bats Wednesday, and he is showing plenty of power with 26 doubles and eight homers while striking out only 26 times in 266 at-bats.

“I’m surprised that he’s still here (American Association) Wichita, KS Manager Kevin Hooper told The Sun. “To say there’s not room for that somewhere else (in affiliated baseball) is kind of surprising to me.  But there’s a lot of guys in this league I think that about.”

(Fans may subscribe at newly-reduced rates to this Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 36 times in 2014, at www.WirzandAssociates.com.  Bob Wirz provides supplemental stories about Independent Baseball on his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)