Taijuan Walker anxious for his first start
Walker, the team’s top pitching prospect, is to take on the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Seattle Times staff reporter
HOUSTON – Taijuan Walker wasn’t planning on sleeping much before his major league debut.
Walker is to take on the Houston Astros on Friday night after getting called up Wednesday from Class AAA. After an afternoon here spent throwing a football around the outfield at Minute Maid Park with his Mariners teammates, the 20-year-old was expecting a long night still to come with little in the way of activity.
“Usually, on my start nights, I don’t sleep,’’ he said. “I go to around 3. For some reason, I just sit up all night doing nothing.’’
Walker has pitched in big-league ballparks before, having done so in the Futures Game twice – at Yankee Stadium and in Kansas City – as part of All-Star Game weekend. But he still expects the butterflies to kick in once he steps on the mound here for the first time.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, in town with the team, said the time was right to take a look at a pitcher widely touted as the best prospect in Seattle’s farm system.
“A lot of thought went into it, about what’s best for this young guy,’’ Zduriencik said. “A lot of discussions with those who had him, the pitching coaches down there (in the minors) ... what they saw and what they felt. Where he was at mentally and physically.
“I think this sets the tone for spring training next year. Get him up here for this period of time. Get him some starts at the big-league level. I think it will be an experience that he needs.’’
• Michael Morse was not in the lineup Thursday after a CBS Sports report earlier in the day that the Baltimore Orioles put a waiver claim in on him. The Mariners have 48 hours to work out a trade with the Orioles or then could pull Morse back off waivers if a deal is not negotiated. The Mariners also have the option of letting the Orioles keep Morse – and assume his remaining salary – for nothing.
Kendrys Morales had also been claimed earlier in the week by an unidentified team, but the Mariners pulled him back off waivers after failing to reach a deal. Morales will remain with Seattle the rest of the season.
As for Morse – hitting just .158 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .489 since coming off the disabled list a month ago – he was a healthy scratch for the Astros opener. Manager Eric Wedge on Wednesday seemed to be referencing Morse when he said he was disappointed with some of the veteran production and leadership he was getting in the middle of the order. On Thursday, he was asked to clarify what he meant.
“With regard to the veteran leadership, I think sometimes it’s an important thing to be a little more vocal from time to time with your team,’’ he said. “I think our guys do a great job individually with each other, but sometimes you’ve got to be a little more vocal from a team standpoint when you’re playing like we played at home.’’
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners