Mariners fans are holding their collective breath after James Paxton exited last night’s start in the first inning with an apparent injury. Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Paxton was lifted due to some discomfort in his lower back. Clearly, this would’ve been Paxton’s last start before the All-Star break anyhow, so the plus for the team is that he’ll have an extended period of time to rest up and hopefully return in healthier form. If the Mariners want to truly be cautious with their ace, they could slot him into the back of the rotation coming out of the break, giving him extra time in an effort to ensure that his back issue is cleared up. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, though there’ll understandably be at least some apprehension around the situation until Paxton can make it through a start or two without further incident. Seattle can ill-afford to lose Paxton, who heads into the break with a 3.70 ERA, 11.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 119 1/3 innings.
Some more injury updates from around the league…
- Pirates righty Chad Kuhl will be shut down from throwing entirely until Aug. 8, writes Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At that point, he’ll be reevaluated and, if all goes well, begin throwing from flat ground. There’s no definite timetable on Kuhl’s return from the current forearm injury that has him on the shelf, though Bloom notes that Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk doesn’t expect that Kuhl will ultimately require any type of surgical procedure to correct the issue. The 25-year-old Kuhl had pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate through 14 starts before he was rocked for 10 runs across two starts (six innings). He exited that final start early due to the forearm issue and was subsequently placed on the DL.
- Julio Urias faced live hitters this week for the first time since undergoing major shoulder surgery last June, tweets Pedro Moura of The Athletic. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters that the left-hander’s fastball reached as high as 92 mph in that session, and while that’s not quite as high as the 93.1 mph he averaged last season before surgery, it’s an encouraging sign in the early stages of his return to throwing. At the time of Urias’ procedure, Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman suggested that the prized young lefty’s rehab could be as long as 14 months. It still seems possible that Urias could return before season’s end, though the team will undoubtedly exercise caution with a player of his upside. Urias had one of the most meteoric rises through the minors of any pitcher in recent history, debuting in the Majors as a 19-year-old in 2016.
- The White Sox received some more tough news on a promising young prospect, as the team announced to reporters this week that outfielder Micker Adolfo will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season (Twitter link via WGN’s Adam Hoge). The silver lining, if there’s any, is that the procedure comes with a quicker recovery time for position players than for pitchers, and Adolfo is expected to be recovered in eight to 10 months. That would put him on track to be back up to speed anywhere from early Spring Training to early May Adolfo, 21, had turned in a quality .283/.368/.466 slash with 11 homers but a more concerning 27.2 percent strikeout rate through 78 games against older competition in Class-A Advanced. Fangraphs ranked him ninth among ChiSox farmhands earlier this year, while he currently ranks 10th in their system over at MLB.com.