Photo(s) of the Day: Things you don’t have to do very often in Arizona

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I got to Goodyear Ballpark just after 8AM this morning to find the groundscrew having to deal with a soaking wet tarp.  Note the giant pool just beyond shortstop:

Not something that happens very often in the desert I imagine.  The trick: to rip that thing off the infield fast enough so that the pool doesn’t move to the infield dirt, which would make Asdrubal Cabrera’s life difficult this afternoon.  OK men, grab some tarp and … ready … sprint!

Victory!  Now the pool is in shallow left, where drains will presumably make it go away before I hit “post.”

Last night’s rain notwithstanding, driving around Phoenix these past few days, I’ve been struck by how utterly unnatural it is for five or six million people to live in a desert. Seeing green grass at office parks or golf courses is downright disturbing. Even taking a shower makes me feel self-conscious.  This water should not be here and otherwise would not be but for the desire of human beings to live where Mother Nature made it inhospitable to do so.

I can’t decide if the existence of modern metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona is a shining testament to the human spirit or an impressive display of man’s folly.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.