Just In: Ex-Yankees pitcher trying for comeback: Red Sox burned me out…

Keep him or trade him: That was the dilemma facing the Red Sox when last season’s trade deadline approached.

Left-hander James Paxton was pitching in his first full season since Tommy John surgery in 2021, and, like a NASCAR driver trying to coast his car to the finish line on empty, the Red Sox, who were still alive in the race for the postseason, gambled — and lost.

Paxton went 1-3 with a 7.62 ERA in six starts from Aug. 4 to Sept. 1 and sat out the final month of the season with an inflamed right knee, and the Red Sox folded and finished 78-84 — 11 games out of a playoff spot.

Paxton went 6-2 with a 3.34 ERA in his first 13 starts, and the Red Sox were hoping for the Paxton of 2019, when he was 15-6 with the Yankees. But they had used him up.

“It had been like 2½ years since I pitched [meaningful] innings in the big leagues, and I felt like I kind of reached a point where my body was just a little burned out,” Paxton told the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t have much left in the tank.”

The Red Sox probably should’ve seen that coming.

“The life on my stuff was not there,” Paxton said. “I could still throw hard, but I didn’t have any finish on anything. The ball was coming in kind of dead. And it doesn’t matter how hard you’re throwing, if it’s coming in dead, it’s sitting there on a tee for them. I felt kind of naked out there. I was grinding as hard as I could, and it just wasn’t coming.”

He added: “Early in the season, I had a lot of extra rest, and then we went to a shorter leash. Coming off a surgery and that much time off, I wasn’t conditioned for that. If you start off going [every five days] your body gets accustomed to that, whereas if you go six all the time, that’s what your body gets accustomed to. We’re creatures of habit.”

Paxton went 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA in four starts on four days’ rest last season and was 7-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 15 starts with five days’ or more of rest. The Dodgers — who signed him to a one-year, $7 million contract —will make sure the 35-year-old gets plenty of rest between starts.

I’ll be ready to throw more innings this year,” Paxton said. “The body feels really good, so I’m ready to go.”

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