Ex-UK pitcher Paxton will have to bat in next MLB start

September 10, 2013 

James Paxton's second major-league start for the Seattle Mariners will present more than just a challenge on the mound for the former University of Kentucky standout. He'll also have to have to swing a bat.

Paxton, who won his debut against the Rays when he gave up one earned run in six innings this past Saturday, will face off against another rookie, Michael Wacha, when the Mariners play the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

He told MLB.com that he hasn't practiced batting "since I was 13 or 14 years old. They stopped me hitting as soon as I started playing competitive high school baseball. So that will be interesting."

Paxton took early batting practice Monday at Safeco Field along with Hisashi Iwakuma and Erasmo Ramirez, the other starters in the Cardinals' series.

"It was actually pretty fun," he told the website. "I took some swings in the cage beforehand, just to loosen up a little. I missed my first few bunts, but then I started laying 'em down and felt all right. I got a couple good swings in there. It felt good. But if I can bunt and move people over, we're good."

The Canadian said he played first base and right field when he was in youth baseball in Canada.

"I was an OK hitter when I was 11 or 12," he said, "but after that it was just downhill."

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