Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 pm31 11:45pm

Mariners' James Paxton unfazed by eagle encounter, but other players were terrified

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Tim Tebow made a splash in his debut with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, connecting on the first pitch of his first at-bat for a three-run home run. USA TODAY Sports

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Seattle Mariners left-handed pitcher James Paxton and opposing Twins players had different instincts when a bald eagle landed on Paxton on Thursday in Minneapolis, instead of soaring to the mound to reach its handlers.

In the moment, Paxton told reporters that he thought: “I’m not gonna outrun an eagle. …We’ll see what happens.”

That’s likely why Challenger, the bald eagle set to fly above the field before the national anthem, perched on Paxton’s right shoulder before one of the trainers hustled out to lure the bird safely away.

“It was coming right for me, and I was like, ‘All right, the (bird trainer) is over there. And I’m not the eagle guy,'” Paxton told reporters. “But I guess this eagle was just confused, apparently the first time ever. I was just standing there trying not to panic.”

Twins players, meanwhile, were hitting the panic button as the incident unfolded.

“When I saw (the bald eagle) like perk up on Paxton’s arm, I’m gone,” Twins center fielder Byron Buxton said. “He wouldn’t have a chance to get on my shoulder.”

Twins catcher Mitch Garver added that the eagle was “terrifying.” And Mariners manager Scott Servais joked that fellow starter Felix Hernandez would have run away.

#BoldNorth

This is @Twins Territory and that Bald Eagle knew it. pic.twitter.com/J8q7BDVI47

— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) April 5, 2018

MORE: The eagle has landed … on James Paxton’s shoulder

MORE: Eagle gets confused before Twins-Mariners game

Paxton seemingly avoided injury, even though the eagle’s huge talons were clawing his back.

“I kind of ducked so it wouldn’t fly into my face. It was, I think, trying to stand on my back,” Paxton said. “And then I thought, ‘OK, if I can stand up slowly, maybe it’ll just rest on my shoulder.’ But as I stood up, he kind of fell off my back a little bit and was kind of clawing to try to get back up on my shoulder. But then as I stood straight up, it fell back onto the ground.

“(The eagle’s) talons, I don’t think, punctured me. They were kind of sharp on my back. I don’t have any scratches, I don’t believe. That’s not the first time I’ve seen a bald eagle, but it was the first time I’ve had one try to land on me.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Ranking every MLB mascot

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1. Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies) – The greatest

1. Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies) – The greatest mascot in all of sports.  Butch Dill, USA TODAY Sports
2. Mr. Met (New York Mets) – Is any mascot a bigger

2. Mr. Met (New York Mets) – Is any mascot a bigger part of American culture?  Andy Marlin, USA TODAY Sports
3. Wally the Green Monster (Boston Red Sox) – Literally

3. Wally the Green Monster (Boston Red Sox) – Literally a green monster. Brilliant.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
4. Swinging Friar (San Diego Padres) – Pudgy, balding,

4. Swinging Friar (San Diego Padres) – Pudgy, balding, joyous.  Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports
5. The Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles) – When you've

5. The Oriole Bird (Baltimore Orioles) – When you’ve on the team’s hats, you know you’ve made it.  Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports
6. Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants) – Quiet, unlike

6. Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants) – Quiet, unlike the sea lions at Pier 39.  Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports
7. Mr. Redlegs (Cincinnati Reds) – Historians will

7. Mr. Redlegs (Cincinnati Reds) – Historians will always debate whether or not he was the original baseball head.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
8. Dinger (Colorado Rockies) – Apparently they found

8. Dinger (Colorado Rockies) – Apparently they found fossils during the construction of Coors Field.  Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports
9. Pirates Parrot (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Always doing

9. Pirates Parrot (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Always doing good antics.  Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports
10. Stomper (Oakland Athletics) – The Athletics "elephant"

10. Stomper (Oakland Athletics) – The Athletics “elephant” theme dates back to 1902.  Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports
11. Mariners Moose (Seattle Mariners) – You can't see

11. Mariners Moose (Seattle Mariners) – You can’t see a moose and not smile.  Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports
12. Sluggerrr (Kansas City Royals) – Was once sued

12. Sluggerrr (Kansas City Royals) – Was once sued for shooting a hot dog into a fan’s eye.  Peter Aiken, USA TODAY Sports
13. Bernie Brewer (Milwaukee Brewers) – He likes beer.

13. Bernie Brewer (Milwaukee Brewers) – He likes beer.  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports
14. Raymond (Tampa Bay Rays) – Our first generic furry

14. Raymond (Tampa Bay Rays) – Our first generic furry creature.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
15. Billy the Marlin (Miami Marlins) – Has somehow

15. Billy the Marlin (Miami Marlins) – Has somehow survived all the organization’s fire sales.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
16. Fredbird (St. Louis Cardinals) – The cartoonish

16. Fredbird (St. Louis Cardinals) –The cartoonish googly eyes make this mascot.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
17. Orbit (Houston Astros) – Returned in 2013 after

17. Orbit (Houston Astros) – Returned in 2013 after being replaced by “Junction Jack” from 2000-2012.  Shanna Lockwood, USA TODAY Sports
18. Rangers Captain (Texas Rangers) – Horse costumes

18. Rangers Captain (Texas Rangers) – Horse costumes are funny.  Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports
19. Paws (Detroit Tigers) – He's a bit too scary looking

19. Paws (Detroit Tigers) – He’s a bit too scary looking for a mascot.  Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports
20. Ace (Toronto Blue Jays) – Not enough Canadian flair

20. Ace (Toronto Blue Jays) – Not enough Canadian flair on this one.  Kevin Hoffman, USA TODAY Sports
21. Screech (Washington Nationals) – He's a bald eagle

21. Screech (Washington Nationals) – He’s a bald eagle so it’s technically patriotic.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
22. Clark (Chicago Cubs) – Clark's introduction has

22. Clark (Chicago Cubs) – Clark’s introduction has coincided with the Cubs’ renaissance, but he still has much to prove.  Jerry Lai, USA TODAY Sports
23. Southpaw (Chicago White Sox) – Wants to be the

23. Southpaw (Chicago White Sox) – Wants to be the Green Monster, but is not.  Dennis Wierzbicki, USA TODAY Sports
24. Baxter the Bobcat (Arizona Diamondbacks) – It's

24. Baxter the Bobcat (Arizona Diamondbacks) – It’s hard to make a snake costume, but this is just weird.  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
25. Slider (Cleveland Indians) – Generic creature that

25. Slider (Cleveland Indians) – Generic creature that doesn’t even feature team colors.  Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
26. T.C. Bear (Minnesota Twins) – This mascot is the

26. T.C. Bear (Minnesota Twins) – This mascot is the stuff of nightmares.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
27. Blooper (Atlanta Braves) – New for 2018, we have

27. Blooper (Atlanta Braves) – New for 2018, we have no idea what this thing is.  Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports

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