Former Yankees pitcher James Paxton said Thursday that his struggles in 2020 were because he rushed back from a back injury he had last February.
Paxton, who last week signed a one-year deal, $8.5 million deal to return to the Mariners, said rushing back hurt his mechanics and the overcompensation led to the arm troubles.
“It actually put my arm in a dangerous position and that’s what I think caused the injury to my flexor, was just my mechanics being off and not having my strength back to 100 percent,” Paxton said. “So I really focused this offseason on getting my strength back in my core and my back, and did a lot of work on my mechanics and I’m back to feeling really good right now.”
Paxton was able to start the season on time when the pandemic caused a delay until late July, but went just 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts
Last February, Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy to repair a herniated disk and remove a peridiscal cyst. Dr. Andrew Dossett performed the procedure.
The 32-year-old left-hander, who has a 57-33 career record with a 3.58 ERA, did not pitch for the Yankees after Aug. 20 after sustaining what the team said was a low-grade strain in his left forearm flexor.
Paxton, who is looking to revitalize his career in Seattle, has some incentives in his deal. He can earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses for starts: $150,000 each for six to 10 and $750,000 more over starts 11-22.
This is Paxton’s second stint with the Mariners, who traded him to the Yankees following the 2018 season. He struggled in the first half of his first season with the Bombers until he rediscovered his breaking ball in the second half en route to a solid 15-6 season with a 3.82 ERA. Paxton won a career-best 10 straight starts before leaving his final regular-season start after one inning on Sept. 27. He returned to go 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts, allowing five runs in 13 innings.
General manager Jerry Dipoto said he was glad Paxton wanted to return to the Mariners, adding the team was lucky to snag the veteran this late in the offseason.
“The fact that he landed in a space, from a contract perspective, that we felt comfortable with, I think we were fortuitous,” Dipoto said from the Mariners’ spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz.
— with AP