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The Strike Zone

Mariners rookie James Paxton leaves early due to lat strain

The Mariners can ill afford losing another starting pitcher to injury. (Elaine Thompson/AP) The Mariners can ill afford losing another starting pitcher to injury. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Seattle certainly is used to it pouring when it rains, but it's usually in a literal sense. The old maxim hit the Mariners' starting rotation on Tuesday night.

Rookie hurler James Paxton left his second start of the year against the Angels in the middle of a Mike Trout at-bat after manager Lloyd McClendon and the training staff saw something they didn't like. While it initially looked like it might have been his triceps or shoulder, word from the Mariners was that Paxton suffered a left lat strain. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

The last thing the Mariners needed was another injury in their starting rotation with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker both about one month away from returning to the mound. Paxton had breathed some life into the rotation, tossing seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out nine in his season debut last week. He surrendered homers to Albert Pujols and David Freese in the first inning on Tuesday, but had rebounded and retired 14 straight  before giving up a single to Kole Calhoun, his final batter before leaving the game.

Paxton ended up throwing five innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out four and walking none.

Seattle has already had to dip into the reserves, shifting Roenis Elias and Chris Young to the starting rotation. Iwakuma is expected to throw his first bullpen session this week, and Walker made his first rehab start April 4, but it could be May before either of them is back. It's too early to hit the panic button on Paxton, but it's clearly not a good sign when a pitcher has to leave in the middle of an at-bat. The Mariners could have a dynamic, young rotation with Felix Hernandez, Walker and Paxton joined by the 33-year-old Iwakuma. But as too often has been the case in recent years, Hernandez once again finds himself alone.

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