UPDATE: Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo) at PNC Park on Thursday that Paxton will be seeing a doctor on Friday. The team will know more after that.
Red Sox left-hander James Paxton began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Thursday. His first start did not last long.
Starting for the FCL Red Sox in their contest against the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park, Paxton was forced to exit after facing just two batters due to left lat (latissimus dorsi muscle on the back) tightness, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
Paxton was slated to pitch three innings on Thursday afternoon. It was his first start at any level since April 6 of last year, when — as a member of the Mariners — he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery one week later.
The Red Sox, per Cotillo, are optimistic that Paxton’s latest injury is a minor one. Boston signed the 33-year-old southpaw to a unique one-year, $6 million contract last December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million option that the club can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline it, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.
Given that he started a rehab assignment on Thursday, August 18, Paxton could have been on track to make his Red Sox debut at some point in mid-September. With this latest setback, though, it remains to be seen if the Canadian-born lefty will be able to pitch this season.
As noted by Cotillo, it is still too early to determine if Paxton will need to be shut down from throwing due to this lat injury. On their end, the Red Sox have not yet said if Paxton will return to the big-leagues as a starter or reliever.
A veteran of nine major-league seasons between the Mariners and Yankees, Paxton has traditionally been a starter throughout his career. In his lone appearance for Seattle last April, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound hurler hovered around 92-96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also works with a curveball, cutter, and changeup.
(Picture of James Paxton: Bryan Green/Flickr)