Walker feels better than results show

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 29, 2014 

Seattle Mariners top pitching prospect Taijaun Walker put up a disappointing pitching line in his return to the mound Wednesday night with the Tacoma Rainiers.

That bothered him only briefly.

“Naturally, I’m disappointed in the numbers, but this start really wasn’t about the numbers,” he said. “Pretty much it’s about how I feel, and I felt good.”

Walker went three innings in his rehabilitation start against the Salt Lake Bees at Cheney Stadium. He allowed four earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks while throwing 61 pitches with 38 strikes.

The Bees went on to win, 5-3.

After opening with two scoreless innings, Walker allowed four runs in the third. Most of the damage was done on back-to-back, two-out home runs: first by Efren Navarro to right, then by Luis Jimenez to left.

“I left the ball up,” Walker said. “I wasn’t finishing my pitches. I felt my stuff was pretty good.”

Walker was placed on the Mariners’ 15-day disabled list March 29 because of a right shoulder impingement.

He worked his way back pitching at Advanced-A High Desert on April 4 and Double-A Jackson on April 9, and had been scheduled to make a rehab start in Tacoma on April 15, but was scratched because of shoulder tightness.

Last season, he climbed from Jackson to Tacoma and finally to Seattle, where he made three major league starts, going 1-0 with a 3.60 earned-run average. Along the way, he was named to the Southern League All-Star team, pitched in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, and was named Mariners minor league starting pitcher of the year.

He was selected by Seattle in the 23rd round of the 2008 draft and is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 6 prospect in baseball.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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