Walker to continue rehab stint, working off rust
SEATTLE -- Rehabbing pitcher Taijuan Walker (right shoulder impingement) will make at least one or two more starts with Triple-A Tacoma before the Mariners consider recalling him to the Major Leagues, manager Lloyd McClendon said Thursday.
The right-hander, ranked the No. 5 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, was roughed up Wednesday in his first rehab start with the Rainiers, allowing four runs on five hits in three innings. He fanned three and didn't walk anybody, but gave up back-to-back home runs in his final frame.
"His stuff is good, but he's rusty. It's going to take time," McClendon said. "He didn't have much of a Spring Training … it's going to take some time to get the rust off. I think the worst thing we can do is probably rush this young man back."
Walker, 21, has dealt with a pair of injuries to his throwing shoulder -- albeit minor -- dating back to Spring Training. On Feb. 28, he was diagnosed with inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder. He rehabbed and made two Minor League starts in early April -- one for Class A High Desert, one for Double-A Jackson -- before he was scratched from an April 15 rehab start with the Rainiers. That landed him on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement.
On Wednesday, Walker threw 61 pitches, then 14 more in the bullpen to build his endurance.
"It's sore," Walker said of his shoulder. "But it's sore in the right spots. It's nothing bad. I feel like I pitched yesterday."
Walker said he'll throw a bullpen Friday and that he's working on a five-day schedule.
McClendon said it's going to "take a little time" before Walker joins the team. The rookie went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA last season after a callup in late August.
"If he was healthy in Spring Training, he had to make the club. Nothing was given," McClendon said. "I think we're under the assumption now that he was given spot on this club and that's just not the case. He would still have to compete for a spot."
"Believe me, I want him here, but he's got to prove that he's healthy and he [has to] get the rust off, and he's got to be ready to compete at this level on a consistent basis," McClendon said.