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THE MOJ: B.C.’s Paxton expecting big things from himself and his L.A. Dodgers

Veteran pitcher hoping to shake off the injury bug as loaded team aims for World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher James Paxton throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

It’s never been a question of talent with Ladner’s James Paxton, it’s always been a question of health.

It’s a question he hopes he doesn’t have to deal with this summer.

Now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Paxton is continuing his big-league career despite the adversity he has faced the past few years.

At 35-years of age, it would be an easy choice for Paxton to retire and enjoy his summers with his family. According to, Paxton’s made over $48 million dollars during the course of his career, so he’s made more than enough money to live comfortably. But it’s more than just baseball – it’s about challenging yourself.

“What motivates me is my love for competing. I love to push myself to be the best I can be and I’ve found that this game is a great teacher for personal growth,” he said.

Now in his 11th Major League season, Paxton has managed to exceed 150 innings twice in his career. In the last three seasons, he’s made just 25 starts.

So when Monday night rolled around and he took to the mound for his Dodger debut at Chavez Ravine, needless to say he was a little amped.

“You’re kind of like showing yourself for the first time in the regular season, so you want to put your best foot forward,” Paxton said.

It was a night in which Paxton didn’t have his best stuff but he found a way to pick up the win as the Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants by a score of 8-3.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Paxton has been battling his entire career.

On a night when Paxton admits he was trying to find ‘that gap’ all night long, he managed to navigate his way through the Giants lineup throwing five shutout innings, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out five.

Nursing a 3-0 lead in the top of the 5th inning, Dodger manager Dave Roberts stuck with Paxton when he had every opportunity to give him the hook.

After Nick Ahmed and Jung Hoo Lee reached base to lead off the inning for the Giants, Paxton induced a double play ball with Austin Slater at the plate.

But Paxton wasn’t out of trouble just yet.

He then walked the next two batters – Jorge Soler and Mark Chapman – to load the bases.

Again, Roberts elected to let Paxton find a way out of the jam rather than going to the bullpen.

The decision paid off when Wilmer Flores grounded out to second to end the threat.

“He didn’t have his best stuff but it was would you expect from James. He’s a seasoned veteran who is going to go out there and compete and make pitches when he needs to. That last out was big,” Roberts said after the game.

Getting a vote of confidence from your manager this early in the season goes a long way says Paxton.

“That was awesome. For him to allow me to pitch in that situation was huge. To get out of that really built my confidence up. It’s going to help me going forward knowing that I can get in those situations and get out of them. I was very inconsistent. I walked five guys and I was all over the place but I was competing as best as I could and I didn’t let off on a single pitch. And I think he saw that and really wanted to allow me to go out there and compete,” said Paxton.

Hopefully the successful start is a harbinger of things to come.

The last few years have been tough for Paxton. Last year, a right knee injury in September ended his season with the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t pitch in 2022 due to a lat tear. In 2021, he made one appearance with the Mariners before having to undergo Tommy John surgery.

The good news is Paxton feels healthy and is looking forward to being part of the Dodgers.

“I feel really good and my body feels great. Nothing was hurting in my first start. It was just a matter of me trying to find my rhythm out there but I’ll tell you we’ve done a lot of things. My body feels good so I think the rhythm will come. I just need to get more reps. Getting in those regular season games, you have that adrenaline. I’ll try to figure out my timing (and getting) my firing pins aligned but the body’s feeling really good right now,” said Paxton, who owns a 65-38 lifetime record with a career ERA of 3.67.

As for this season, Paxton is excited to be pitching for the marquee franchise in baseball that features such superstars as Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman but with it comes pressure.

“The expectation is the World Series with our team. You look at our team on paper and say, ‘oh yeah, that team should be in the World Series.’ As you know, there’s a lot more that goes into it. We have to stay healthy and we have to take it one day at a time. I think if we get too far ahead of ourselves and start thinking about the World Series in April we’re going to be in trouble. You have to take it one day at a time and focus on winning that ballgame that day. And if we do that and stay focused, I think we’re going to be successful,” noted Paxton.

And despite having the biggest stars in baseball, Paxton tells us that there are no divas on the ball club.

“I’ve never been a part of a team with this much star power but it’s interesting. You think that a team with this much star power there would be a lot of ego stuff going on. But with this team, I really don’t feel any of that. These guys are really down to earth. They’re all here to play ball and they’re all here to win and they all treat everyone the same. It’s really been a great experience,” said Paxton.

Sounds like Paxton should fit in nicely with this group.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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