Is Mariners’ James Paxton an ‘ornery Canuck’? ‘I’m not that grumpy’
Mariners manager Scott Servais was given a warning before Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
“Mel had told me we might get (an) ornery Canuck tonight when we started the game,” Servais reported after a 3-2 win that featured seven strong innings from ace left-hander James Paxton, who was coming off a pair of disappointing outings against the Yankees and Red Sox.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Canadian-born Paxton was able to respond to that colorful label bestowed upon him by his skipper and pitching coach.
“I don’t think I’m that grumpy,” he quipped to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom.
Paxton did allow for that description to possibly match him when Servais tries to take the ball out of his hands, however.
“I always give him a little hairy eyeball when he takes me out of the game at 92 pitches,” Paxton said. “I understand it, in the heat of the moment I’m competitive and of course I want the ball and I want to go back out there. … Of course I’m gonna be a little bit upset when I come out of the game.”
After giving up four runs over five innings in New York on June 21 and six over 2 1/3 innings against Boston on June 15, Paxton came out with an “angry fastball” Tuesday against Baltimore. It helped him strike out 10 and limit the Orioles to just six hits and a walk over seven frames.
“I think I was just thinking too much the last start. I was trying to create pitches, make pitches move a certain way. Last night I just got kinda back to being really aggressive in the zone with my stuff and let it rip,” he said. “Aggressive is I think what it is more for me. … You’re basically just letting it rip and really trusting your stuff, and for me that’s what I have to do for me to be at my best.”
Something else that is helping the 29-year-old southpaw is his offseason preparation, which he talked about at length before spring training on the 710 ESPN Seattle Hot Stove Show. He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his six-year MLB career, but he has yet to miss any of his turns in the rotation this year and is already up to 103 2/3 innings pitched (his career-high is 136 innings, which he threw last season).
“I feel great. I feel like the stuff I did this offseason really set me up well to endure the long season and so far it’s been going really well.”
Mr. Paxton goes to Washington?
With a 7-2 record, 3.65 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 134 strikeouts – not to mention both a no-hitter and a 16-strikeout game under his belt this season – Paxton has a good chance of making his first All-Star team next month. Paxton said he would be honored if he got the nod to play for the American League at Nationals Park.
“Oh, man, that would be so cool. It’s been a dream of mine to be a major league All-Star. I mean, what an honor. Really elite group of guys that get to make that team, and it would be very cool to join those guys in D.C.”
Paxton took the time to stump for some of his teammates he feels are deserving of going to Washington, as well.
“We have a lot of guys on this team that are worthy. (Edwin) Díaz has been absolutely unbelievable. In my opinion, he’s been the best closer the first half of the season in Major League Baseball. We’ve got guys like (Jean) Segura, who just seems to hit every single day, and then Mitch (Haniger), he’s making plays. He’s just as good in the outfield as he is at the dish. He makes a big play or gets a big hit (it) seems like every night.”
You can listen to Paxton’s full interview embedded above, or download it from the Bob, Groz and Tom podcast page.