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Seattle weighs effect of brief spring on Walker

SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon on Friday said he had not named a starting pitcher for Tuesday's game against the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington but that a decision should come by the end of Saturday.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker, rated the organization's top prospect by, threw five scoreless innings Wednesday in a rehab start for the Double-A Jackson Generals of the Southern League. Walker allowed three hits with 10 strikeouts and a walk while throwing just 85 pitches. It was his second Minor League rehab start.

Before the season, McClendon said he expected Walker to begin the year in the starting rotation. In late February, Walker was sidelined with inflammation in his throwing shoulder that kept him out of Spring Training, but after his latest start he said he was ready rejoin the big league club.

So why the holdup?

"It has nothing to do with his lack of big league experience," McClendon said. "I think it has everything to do with his lack of work in Spring Training and the amount of innings he had because of injury in Spring Training. We have to make sure that if he's the guy we're going to bring, then he's got to be ready to compete at this level and there are no bars or limitations."

McClendon said right-handed pitcher Blake Beavan "threw the ball extremely well" in his latest Minor League start and was "in the mix" to fill the rotation spot vacated when starter James Paxton was placed on the 15-day disabled list (left lat strain) and reliever Lucas Luetge was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier this week.

In two starts with Tacoma, Beavan is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA with eight strikeouts and four walks in 13 innings.

McClendon said he wanted Walker to be 100 percent before the 21-year-old could be promoted from Double-A. After making his MLB debut late last season, Walker was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.000 WHIP over three big league starts.

"The game is a little bit more stressful at this level than at the Minor League level in the number of pitches that you throw," McClendon said. "The outs that you get at this level are harder to get. We have to take all that into account when we decide whether or not we're going to bring him or somebody else. We're still talking about all of that."

McClendon added that Paxton was "seven or eight days" away from being re-evaluated before he could start a rehabilitation program. Paxton was forced to leave Tuesday's home opener in the top of the sixth inning with the injury, though he said he tweaked it after throwing a pitch in the fifth.

Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for
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