Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton, a former University of Kentucky standout who started the season 2-0 before suffering a strained lat muscle, threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session before Friday night's game.
"I felt awesome," Paxton told MLB.com. "It was nice to get back up on the mound, that's for sure. It has been a little while, so it was exciting to get back up there and throw some pitches."
Paxton, who has been on the disabled list since shortly after his April 8 start, will throw his next bullpen session Sunday. He is expected to move up to 40 pitches as he works toward what likely will be a June return if all goes well, the website reported.
"I really have no idea when I'll be back exactly," Paxton said. "But as long as I'm feeling good, it shouldn't be too far off. If I could decide, I'd be starting tomorrow. But I'm not allowed to do that."
Paxton was limited to fastballs and change-ups.
"Right now I'm trying to get my timing back and just be smooth," he told MLB.com. "They told me not to go full speed. Obviously it's not game-like right now, we're just trying to make sure it feels good and everything and it did. It was just nice and easy, smooth arm action."
Hart settling in for M's
Former Greenwood High School standout Corey Hart isn't used to his batting average being so low — .216 going into Saturday's games — but the 33-year-old Mariners designated hitter has batted .304 with 10 RBI with runners in scoring position.
"He actually has been swinging the bat a lot better than the average has shown," Seattle Manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB.com. "He hit some balls pretty darn good on the road trip without anything to really show for it. It was nice to see him come through right there."
Hart is finally settling in after missing all of last season after surgeries on both of his knees.
"I'm kind of a notorious slow starter," Hart told MLB.com. "This is kind of an odd season. I've missed some balls or hit a lot of hard balls right at guys. But it's getting a little more positive. ... I'm not too far away from a good average and a lot of hits."
Former Lexington Legends standout Delino DeShields had missed three weeks with a fractured cheekbone after taking a 90 mph fastball to the face. But the Houston Astros prospect, who now plays for Double-A Corpus Christi, didn't let the horrific injury get to him when he hit a pair of home runs in his first two at-bats back in the lineup Friday.
"I was really relaxed," DeShields told MiLB.com. "A lot of people would tell you that after getting hit in the face, they'd be nervous about getting in the box again. Not me. I was like, 'You and me, let's go.'
"There was no better way to come back than to hit a home run the first time back after an injury that could have been 20 times worse than it was," he said. "And then, coming into the dugout and having all my teammates greet me, that was really cool. It's great that they've got my back."
DeShields, 21, told the website that he was eager to return almost immediately after the injury.
"Even when I got hurt, I was ready to play two days after I got hit in the face. I was like, 'Let's go,'" he said.