James Paxton learned two things in one fell swoop on Monday morning. One, that he had been named the American League Player of the Week. Two, that there is an American League Player of the Week award.
“I didn’t (know) until this morning when I got the text,” Paxton said of the existence of the weekly award.
Those who already were aware of the award aren’t too surprised he won it. After all, he’s yet to give up a run in 21 innings over three starts, two of which came last week.
“He’s certainly deserving of it,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Pax is throwing the ball outstanding, off to a great start. Look back to where he was last year at this time, it’s been quite a turnaround, and certainly we saw in the second half (of 2016) kinda moving in the right direction and he’s just continued to expand upon it, and good for him. He’s in a really good spot right now.”
Where Paxton was a year ago was with Triple-A Tacoma, working on a new delivery and trying to get back in the mix of Seattle’s starting rotation. That he did, bringing with him a more lively fastball and renewed approach. It’s been even more pronounced early on this year, as his dominance of opposing offenses has proven.
“Come a long way, made some big adjustments and learned a lot,” Paxton said. “The help of (pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.) teaching me about my pitches and how to use them and stuff has been huge for me, and it’s showing right now.”
• Servais is happy with the intensity the Mariners showed over their three-game sweep of the Rangers, which he said was much improved from Seattle’s previous games this season. “I thought the first 10 games we were very blah. Obviously we probably should have won more than two, we let a couple games get away from us, but the intensity level, I kinda compared it to maybe where we were on Sept. 30 last year. On a 1-10 scale, we were at a 10 (on Sept. 30). You can’t play at a 10 for 162 games, I understand that, (but) if you’re gonna play at a two or a three, you’re definitely gonna go home after 162 games, I do know that. So it has to be somewhere in the middle. I just explained that to our guys kinda in some smaller group meetings and then some bigger group meetings, so I think the point was well-taken. They understood it, and it has to come from everybody. Can’t just be from one or two young guys out to show everybody that they belong in the league; it has to come from everybody, and we certainly picked it up on the weekend. Now we gotta continue.”
• On the injury front, Servais said both shortstop Jean Segura (mild hamstring strain) and relief pitcher Steve Cishek (hip surgery recovery) are coming along well. Segura will be eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on Friday, and Servais said he’s expected to return during the series in Oakland that starts Thursday. Cishek, who has started a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas, had a good first outing and felt good afterwards, according to Servais. The manager said the next steps for Cishek are to have a day or two off, then take a stab at pitching on back-to-back days.
• This is the Marlins’ first appearance in Seattle since 2011, which was notable in that it was the first and so far only series at Safeco Field to not use the DH. That’s because the then-Florida Marlins were the designated home team due to a scheduling quirk – a U2 concert was taking place at their home stadium at the time. So not only was Ichiro Suzuki playing against his future team, but pitchers – including Felix Hernandez – had to hit during the three-game set.
• Speaking of Ichiro, he is in the lineup – making his first start ever in left field at Safeco Field – for the Marlins in tonight’s 7:10 game on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can see the full lineups for the game in this post.