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Seattle Mariners’ James Paxton leaves with left elbow discomfort after throwing 24 pitches

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SEATTLE — Left-hander James Paxton departed the first start of his second stint with Seattle due to discomfort in his pitching elbow after throwing just 24 pitches against the White Sox on Tuesday night.

The Mariners announced the initial diagnosis on Paxton two innings after he left the game. Paxton remained in the dugout to watch after he left the mound.

Paxton grimaced after throwing a 92 mph fastball to Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn with one out in the second inning. Mariners manager Scott Servais and a trainer immediately came to the mound while Paxton bent over with his hands on his knees. After some discussion, Paxton walked off and was replaced by Nick Margevicius.

Paxton, who spent the last two seasons with the New York Yankees after playing his first six years for Seattle, returned to the Mariners in February on a one-year deal worth $8.5 million.

He had surgery in February 2020 to repair a herniated disk and remove a cyst from his back. He went 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts for New York last year before being shut down with a left forearm strain.

Paxton can earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses for games started: $150,000 each for six to 10 and $750,000 more over starts 11-22.

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Seattle Mariners’ Logan Gilbert shaky in debut, but ‘feel like I belong here’

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Overshadowed by a masterful pitching performance by Cleveland Indians right-hander Zach Plesac, the anticipated debuts of prized Seattle Mariners prospects Logan Gilbert and Jarred Kelenic didn’t quite play out as the team hoped Thursday night in a 5-2 loss at T-Mobile Park.

Gilbert (0-1) lasted four innings, allowing four runs on five hits, striking out five and walking none while throwing 71 pitches. Seattle was going to limit Gilbert to around 85 pitches and was hoping to get him into the fifth.

The 24-year-old right-hander threw plenty of strikes and flashed a good mix of breaking pitches to go with his fastball.

“I definitely feel like I belong here and my stuff plays up here,” said Gilbert, who was ranked as the No. 43 prospect in baseball, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

Gilbert allowed two home runs — one on a hanging slider to Franmil Reyes and another on a 94 mph fastball to Jose Ramirez after falling behind 3-1 in the count.

“As they’re watching the game unfold, they realize that Logan really does lean on his fastball,” Servais said of the Ramirez homer. “He truly believes in it and he should, it’s a really effective pitch. But [Ramirez] got up on top of a 3-1 fastball and that’s what happens — Jose Ramirez is really good.”

Gilbert acknowledged making mistakes that the Indians made him pay for Thursday night.

“Definitely don’t get away with all the mistakes that maybe I did coming up,” he said. “And of course, just falling behind in the count, they are usually gonna make you pay for it. So when I did leave pitches out over the middle of the plate, more often than not they took advantage of them.”

Kelenic started in left field and batted leadoff for Seattle. He was hitless in four at-bats against Plesac, who took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning. Kelenic flied out on the first pitch of his first at-bat, with right fielder Josh Naylor falling into the stands as he caught the ball in foul territory.

Kelenic has been regarded as one of the top prospects in the minors for several years and only reinforced his status with a torrid start at Triple-A, where he hit .370 with six runs, two homers, a double and five RBIs in just six games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Albert Pujols officially released by Los Angeles Angels, becomes free agent

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Albert Pujols was released by the Los Angeles Angels after clearing waivers on Thursday, one week after the 41-year-old star slugger was designated for assignment.

Pujols became a free agent and can sign with any team. The Angels remain responsible for his $30 million salary in the final season of a $240 million, 10-year contract. A team signing the first baseman and designated hitter would pay only a prorated share of the $570,500 major league minimum, which would be offset against what the Angels owe him.

Pujols is hitting .198 with a .622 OPS this season with five homers and 12 RBIs in 92 plate appearances.

He is fifth in major league history with 667 homers and 13th with 3,253 hits. A three-time National League MVP and two-time World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols has a .298 career average and .921 OPS. He is a 10-time All-Star and had been the oldest active player in the major leagues.

Pujols was in a 7-for-43 slump at the time he was cut.

He batted .328 with a 1.037 OPS in St. Louis, but hit .256 with a .758 OPS in Anaheim along with 222 homers.

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Touted Seattle Mariners prospects Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert making MLB debut

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SEATTLE — Jerry Dipoto couldn’t help but chuckle when Jarred Kelenic went deep in his first at-bat at the Triple-A level.

It was yet more evidence Kelenic was ready for the big leagues.

“I laughed out loud when he had a homer in his first Triple-A at-bat off a lefty, because that’s about as appropriate to how Jared Kelenic accepts challenges as you can imagine,” Dipoto said Thursday. “And I’m sure he’s going to be up for this next one, which is facing the best pitchers in the world night after night.”

Kelenic and right-handed pitcher Logan Gilbert are making their debuts for the Mariners on Thursday night as Seattle takes the next step in its rebuilding project. Kelenic is starting in left field and battling leadoff, while Gilbert will start on the mound as Seattle opens a four-game series with Cleveland.

“Players, sometimes they hit the ground running, and sometimes they don’t. The major leagues are difficult,” Dipoto said. “But there’s never any more excitement than with the anticipation of the arrival of talented young players like these and we’re excited to see what happens across the board. It’s gonna be a fun time for us.”

The additions Thursday are part of a major roster reshuffle for the Mariners. Coming up from Triple-A Tacoma along with Kelenic and Gilbert is right-hander Paul Sewald to bolster a taxed bullpen.

But Kelenic and Gilbert are the headliners. Kelenic has been regarded as one of the top prospects in the minors for several years and only reinforced his status with a torrid start at Triple-A, where he hit .370 with six runs, two homers, a double and five RBIs in just six games.

“He’s knocked every challenge we’ve given him out of the park, really, and has done that since he’s been a Mariner,” Dipoto said.

Kelenic will primarily play in left field, but Dipoto expects him to move around the outfield on days Kyle Lewis or Mitch Haniger need a break from playing in the field.

Kelenic said some of his nerves were eased because Gilbert was debuting on the same night.

“To be able to start this journey in the big leagues with someone that you started the journey with in the minor leagues makes this transition a little bit easier,” Kelenic said. “I was just talking with him in the clubhouse and as excited as I am to get going with my major league career, I’m just as excited for him.”

Gilbert’s arrival in Seattle was partly out of necessity. Dipoto said the team started targeting May for Gilbert’s potential arrival late last season. But major injuries to Seattle’s starting rotation may have prompted a slightly quicker decision on Gilbert, who made just one start in Triple-A.

With Seattle’s plan to use a six-man rotation, Dipoto said the Mariners believe they’ll be able to control Gilbert’s innings and keep him around the target of 110 to 120 this year.

“He’s, I believe, as ready for this opportunity as a young pitcher can be,” Dipoto said. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for him. It’s quite a challenge in the big leagues. But he’s so cerebral. He has been preparing for this start all of his life.”

Manager Scott Servais said the goal with Gilbert would be to get about five innings against Cleveland. He also revealed Gilbert had shoulder trouble early in spring training that has limited his workload to date.

“He’s completely healthy now. He’s good to go and the goal tonight would be about 85 pitches,” Servais said.

To clear space on the roster, Seattle optioned relievers Aaron Fletcher and Wyatt Mills to Tacoma, along with outfielder Taylor Trammell, whose spot is being taken by Kelenic for now. Trammell made his major league debut on Opening Day but is batting .157 in 27 games. Servais said Trammell needs more playing time and expects he’ll be back with the major league club at some point.

Seattle also transferred left-handed pitcher Nick Margevicius and right-hander Ljay Newsome to the 60-day injured list. Margevicius has been out since April 26 with shoulder issues. Newsome may be headed for Tommy John surgery. Dipoto said it appears both players could be done for the year.

Seattle also designated for assignment outfielder Braden Bishop.

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