James Paxton has shown he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball. Now he wants to prove he can stay on the mound for a whole season for the Seattle Mariners.
Paxton’s had a breakout 2017 season that included an American League Pitcher of the Month Award for July, but while he started a career-high 24 big league games, he still had two disabled list trips that halted his momentum. Coming into 2018, the 29-year-old lefty from Ladner, British Columbia is doing everything in his power to make sure DL stints aren’t a part of his upcoming season.
“My expectation for myself is to stay healthy,” Paxton said Wednesday night on the Mariners Hot Stove show on 710 ESPN Seattle. “That’s my No. 1 goal, is to stay healthy this season. I’ve done, I feel like, everything I can possibly do to give myself the opportunity to stay healthy. I can’t promise myself results … I can’t promise wins, but I can promise myself I’m gonna give it everything I got on every pitch that I throw, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Paxton said his body is feeling strong, and the offseason program he’s put himself through speaks to his desire to stay healthy. He spent a lot of time with Kirk Bradshaw of Bellevue’s Athletic Training Institute and also added in some more baseball-centric techniques from personal trainer Iron Glenn, who Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz have worked with regularly.
“(Bradshaw) does the muscle activation technique, actually some stuff that the Mariners trainers and strength staff are being trained in this offseason,” Paxton said, “and he kinda has gone through some patterning in my body to make sure that all the muscles are firing properly. (He) found that some things weren’t firing properly so we kinda went through everything, made sure everything is working right. … (I’ve) tried some new things, feeling really good, throwing’s been going well. I’m feeling ready to go.”
Paxton is prepared for any obstacles he may encounter when he’s back on the mound in games, too, as he’s found confidence in a throwing motion that he switched to during the 2016 season.
“With that mechanical change the year before last season, I felt like I was just kinda getting started feeling that delivery and trying to make it more consistent, and then last year I really felt confident in that delivery and I felt like it was much more consistent. And when I wasn’t in that, I could tell.”
One such time was a shaky stretch in August, but Paxton said with it was much easier for him and Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. to diagnose issues and correct them than in previous seasons.
“I got some help from Mel (in August). We were just watching video and we were able to pick it up pretty quickly. You know, I can tell something is wrong – sometimes I can’t figure out exactly what it is – but as soon as we (saw) the video it was pretty easy to make that adjustment because in doing this new mechanical move I’ve been able to feel my body better through space and make adjustments more quickly.”
Paxton also talked about meeting new teammates Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy at a minicamp hosted by Cruz in Florida this winter and why he’s excited to play with them this year in the interview, which you can find at this link.