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James Paxton exits start with lower back stiffness

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Mariners lefty James Paxton lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Thursday night’s start against the Angels before exiting the field with a trainer. Paxton had surrendered a solo home run to David Fletcher and a two-run homer to Albert Pujols.

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that Paxton exited with lower back stiffness. That’s good news compared to possible alternatives, which might have involved Paxton’s elbow or shoulder. The Mariners should pass along an update on Paxton’s status during the game or shortly following the conclusion.

Paxton, 29, has been solid for the Mariners this year, entering Thursday’s start 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA and a 154/33 K/BB ratio in 118 2/3 innings. Paxton also finished baseball’s most recent no-hitter, doing so on May 8 against the Blue Jays. As you can imagine, losing Paxton for any amount of time is a big deal for the Mariners, who are 58-35 and only three games behind the first-place Astros in the AL West.

Brewers to give Mike Moustakas a look at second base

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The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.

The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.

This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.

Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.