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Zduriencik eying June return for Paxton, Walker

By Brady Henderson

The Mariners could be less than a month away from getting their rotation back to full strength.

That was the word from general manager Jack Zduriencik, who told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” Wednesday that injured starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are getting closer to making rehab starts now that they have begun throwing bullpen sessions.

“Both guys, the positive is they’re throwing, they’re on the mound. We’re going to set up simulated games shortly, some more bullpens,” Zduriencik said. “I’m looking probably … somewhere around the first of June, maybe into the first week of June. That would be a real positive. So we’re probably talking less than a month, three weeks maybe.”

The Mariners entered Wednesday’s matinee against Tampa Bay at 20-19 despite getting a combined five starts from Walker, Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma, who were expected to comprise three-fifths of their starting rotation. Walker has not pitched this season because of a shoulder impingement, Paxton suffered a strained a back muscle in his second outing and Iwakuma returned earlier this month from a finger strain.

“When we get all this pitching back and if we’re able to keep it healthy, this is going to be a lot of fun,” Zduriencik said.