The next mound appearance for Mariners lefty James Paxton is now all but certain to come while pitching for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
Plans call for Paxton to test his recovery from a torn nail on his middle finger Wednesday by playing catch, but even he admits he’s on a go-slow schedule to avoid aggravating the injury.
“I was told to take it easy to kind of test out the glue,” he said. “Then get ready to pitch in the Fall League as long as the glue works to hold the nail on there.”
Until Tuesday, Paxton still loomed as having an outside chance to start Sunday when the Mariners close the season against Oakland at Safeco Field. It now appears lefty Roenis Elias will get that assignment.
Paxton suffered the injury Sept. 24 at Kansas City, when blood flowing from the torn nail forced his departure after just 1 1/3 innings.
It was his only his third start since returning from an absence of more than three months because of a strained tendon in the same finger.
The Fall League opens Oct. 13 and, if healthy, Paxton projects to pitch roughly 30 innings over the six-week schedule.
That would push him to nearly 100 innings for the year — still far short of 120 or so that club officials believe he needs to pitch next season without restrictions.
Paxton could boost his workload by playing winter ball in the Caribbean but appears resistant to do so.
“It’s still to be determined,” he said. “Of course, I’d like to get to more (innings). But once you get into pitching in December, it gets pretty close to spring training.
“I want to give myself time to recover and come into spring training strong so that I can be ready for next season.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon continues to hedge on his rotation for the season’s final four games.
With Paxton sidelined, McClendon said a reliever will start Wednesday’s series finale against Houston … he just didn’t say which one. The likeliest candidates are right-hander Mayckol Guaipe and lefty David Rollins.
While Elias is now positioned to start the season’s final game Sunday against Oakland, McClendon hasn’t yet announced starters for Friday and Saturday.
It could be Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma or … Iwakuma and Hernandez. Decisions, decisions.
When Jesus Sucre threw out Houston’s Jake Marisnick in Monday’s loss, he took over first place in caught-stealing percentage among all catchers with at least 20 opportunities.
Sucre has thrown out nine runners for a 45 percent success rate. Entering Tuesday, Toronto’s Russell Martin ranked second at 39.1 percent (25-for-64) and Oakland’s Josh Phegley was third at 37.8 percent (17-for-45).
Shortstop Ketel Marte will take a short break after Sunday’s season finale before again joining Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League.
“I’m going to play about a month,” confirmed Marte, a Dominican native.
Marte saw limited action the last two winters for Gigantes. The Dominican Winter League, which has six clubs, begins in mid-October and runs through late December.
It was 39 years ago Wednesday — Sept. 30, 1976 — that the Mariners acquired the first player in their history by obtaining right-handed pitcher Dave Johnson from Baltimore in a cash transaction.
Johnson never pitched for the Mariners. He was sent to Minnesota on May 2, 1977, in another cash transaction. He was 4-10 with a 4.64 ERA in 53 games over parts of four big league seasons for the Orioles and Twins.
Robinson Cano entered Tuesday with an 11-game hitting streak, which was the longest current streak among American League players. It was also the 27th double-digit streak of Cano’s career. Only two active players have more — and both are former Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki with 43 and Alex Rodriguez with 28. … The Mariners, prior to Tuesday, had lost three straight games by 3-2 scores. It was the first time they had played three straight games with the same score since suffered three straight 6-2 losses from June 29 to July 1, 2005. … Manager Lloyd McClendon rates as a 3-to-1 favorite to be Mariners manager when the 2016 season opens, according to the oddsmakers at www.sportsbettingdime.com. Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez is the line’s second choice at 4 to 1.
The Mariners and Astros conclude their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field.
With James Paxton sidelined by a torn fingernail, the Mariners are likely to go with one of two relievers — right-hander Mayckol Guaipe (0-3, 5.32) or lefty David Rollins (0-2, 7.88) — against Houston lefty Scott Kazmir (7-11, 2.97).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.