Taijuan Walker scratched from rehab start in Tacoma
The rehabilitation of Taijuan Walker’s shoulder, and his possible return to the Mariners, took a step back Tuesday. What’s unclear is just how big of a step back.
Seattle Times staff reporter
TACOMA — The rehabilitation of Taijuan Walker’s shoulder, and his possible return to the Mariners, took a step back Tuesday. What’s unclear is just how big of a step back.
Walker, the Mariners’ 21-year-old prized pitching prospect, was scratched from his rehab start at Class AAA Tacoma about an hour before the game after complaining about stiffness in his shoulder. Walker missed most of spring training because of shoulder bursitis.
“He said he doesn’t feel comfortable,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “I can’t say what the whole issue is, but what he said is: ‘I just feel stiff. I don’t feel I can get loose.’”
Zduriencik said the Mariners would err on the side of caution when dealing with Walker. Zduriencik added that Walker felt great during his workout Monday but told trainers about the stiffness in his shoulder before Tuesday’s game. Walker didn’t throw any pitches Tuesday.
When asked how concerning Walker’s setback was, Zduriencik said: “It gets your attention. I think that would be the easiest way to say it.” But he also said there’s a chance Walker could wake up Wednesday and feel fine.
Walker struck out 17 batters in just 91 / 3 innings in his two minor-league rehab starts. The Mariners considered starting Walker in Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers but opted to go with Blake Beavan.
They wanted Walker to get more work because of the time he missed in spring training. The thinking all along has been to have Walker join the Mariners without limitations.
There was some thought that Walker could have joined the Mariners had he successfully made Tuesday’s start for the Rainiers, but Zduriencik said: “That might be a little premature. … I don’t think anybody was in a hurry to get him there. What we want is when he’s ready to be there. … None of us were expecting him to come here (Tuesday) expecting to make a decision.”
Zduriencik said the Mariners would reevaluate Walker on Wednesday.
Pitcher Stephen Pryor struggled early in his first rehab appearance with Class AAA Tacoma before settling down.
Pryor, 24, pitched the ninth inning of the Rainers’ 8-5 win on Tuesday. He threw six straight balls and then gave up a single before getting the next three hitters. He didn’t allow a run. His final line: one inning, one hit, one walk and one strikeout.
“All in all,” Pryor said, “I mark it as a good outing.”
Pryor, a reliever, is recovering from surgery in August last year to repair latissmus dors. He routinely threw in the mid- to high-90s before the injury and could even hit triple digits. He topped out at 94 mph Tuesday but most of his pitches were in the low-90s.
“For right now that’s what I’ve got,” Pryor said. “I think the velocity will come. It’s just going to take some time.”
Pryor made four appearances for Class AA Jackson earlier this month and posted a 14.73 ERA with five hits and one strikeout in 3 2/3 innings.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org