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Walker looks to earn No. 2 rotation spot

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The D-backs went to camp this spring looking for a starter to slot behind Zack Greinke in the rotation. New acquisition Taijuan Walker took his first stab at trying to earn the No. 2 role on Tuesday against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium in an 8-4 Arizona victory.

The 24-year-old right-hander made his first start for the D-backs since offseason surgery on his right foot and the Nov. 23 trade that sent Jean Segura to the Mariners. Walker pitched two innings, allowing two hits and striking out three, while tossing 36 pitches and proclaiming afterwards that he felt no pain in the foot.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The D-backs went to camp this spring looking for a starter to slot behind Zack Greinke in the rotation. New acquisition Taijuan Walker took his first stab at trying to earn the No. 2 role on Tuesday against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium in an 8-4 Arizona victory.

The 24-year-old right-hander made his first start for the D-backs since offseason surgery on his right foot and the Nov. 23 trade that sent Jean Segura to the Mariners. Walker pitched two innings, allowing two hits and striking out three, while tossing 36 pitches and proclaiming afterwards that he felt no pain in the foot.

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Walker missed all of July and part of August last season in Seattle because of a broken bone in that foot. He said he was born with an extra bone in the foot, and the surgery removed that bone and 10 spurs.

"I didn't know there was enough room for 10 bone spurs in a foot," Walker said.

Walker was picked by Seattle in the first round of the 2010 Draft (43rd overall) and has yet to live up to expectations.

With new D-backs manager Torey Lovullo moving Greinke along slowly this spring, Walker knows there's an immense opportunity in Arizona.

"Yeah, definitely," Walker said. "A new team, I feel like I've made a lot of changes. It's a fresh start."

Walker worked on changing his motion into a full windup during the offseason to offer "more deception," and is now mixing in a sinker and slider.

Video: Walker breaks down his pitching repertoire

Greinke, who signed a six-year, $206.5 million free-agent contract with the D-backs after the 2015 season, threw his second batting practice session of the spring Monday on the back fields behind the Salt River Fields training complex. That led to speculation the right-hander would be slotted into a Cactus League game soon.

Not yet, Lovullo said before the game, although there's a slot open against the Dodgers Friday at Salt River Fields.

"Not at this point in time," said Lovullo, who noted that Greinke might toss another BP session first. "We'll piece together what the plan is from this point forward. He was going to have a work day [Tuesday] and give us some more information, and we'll have an update what the plan is moving forward with him.

"But all systems are go. He's looking very healthy, strong, and for me, he's exactly where he should be."

Asked after the game about Greinke for that Friday start, Lovullo broke into a big smile and said, "Maybe."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker