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Walker plays light catch, feels good

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker, the No. 6 ranked prospect in baseball by, returned from a week-long layoff to rest his sore shoulder by playing some light catch on Thursday. And the 21-year-old said all went well after a frustrating seven days on the sidelines.

"It felt good, really good," said Walker, who was diagnosed with bursitis in his throwing shoulder last week after feeling soreness in the first two weeks of camp. "It was just 60 feet, so not really getting out there. But it was a test to see how I felt, and it felt good."

Walker is expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the regular season as he builds his strength back up. The youngster from Yucaipa, Calif., admitted he was anxious about even playing catch after the shoulder had given him problems ever since his arrival at camp.

"I was a little nervous about it, especially being out for seven days," he said. "I didn't really know what to expect. But I was pretty happy with the results."

The Mariners believe Walker just overthrew getting ready for camp, wanting to come in ready to compete for a rotation berth. Tests didn't show any structural damage last week, just inflammation, and the expectation is he should be fine once he builds his arm strength up again with a slow throwing program in the coming weeks.

Walker said he'll move back a little and play catch at about 75-90 feet on Friday and continue that process until getting cleared to throw bullpens and eventually pitch to live hitters in batting practice and simulated games.

Even being sidelined for a week was a tough pill to swallow for the youngster.

"It sucks being out for a period of time," he said. "It felt like seven days was months. I was getting bored at the end. I was looking forward to this day all week.

"I couldn't imagine being out longer, especially watching everyone go out there and compete and have fun. You're just sitting there. It's mentally tough because you want to be out there and push through it, but at same time you know you have to take it slow."

Walker started three games for Seattle at the end of last season and went 1-0 with 3.60 ERA in 15 innings. He was expected to earn a rotation berth this spring, but now will have to wait a little longer before cracking the rotation, if all goes well in the coming weeks.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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