Feb 13, 2014; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker throws during team workouts at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Taijuan Walker made his spring debut on Saturday afternoon, starting a game against the San Diego Padres Triple-A team at Peoria. He pitched one inning, allowing a run on two hits.
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports Walker threw only fastballs and change-ups. His fastball was between 93-96 mph, and his change was around 80 mph with good movement.
"“I was pumped,” Walker said. “I was trying not to be. I felt like I wasn’t overthrowing or trying to throw too hard.” Taijuan Walker after first appearance of the spring."
After working in the game Walker proceeded to throw a 15 pitch bullpen session.
"“I just walk away happy because my arm feels good,” he added."
Lost in the story was an update on Stephen Pryor, who followed Walker and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, with a strikeout and two ground ball outs. His fastball was around 91-93, and he also threw his slider and changeup.
This was the first game action for Pryor as well, who had surgery to repair a torn latissimus dorsi muscle in August last year.
"“I was excited,” Pryor said. “This is the first time my arm has felt right since I got hurt last year in April. It’s something to build off of. I feel back to normal. I don’t have to think about where my arm slot or if this one is going to hurt or not.”"
Divish reports Pryor’s slider and change were not very sharp in terms of command, but that is to be expected after a 7 month lay-off.
He will have more work to do to increase his arm strength, raise his velocity, (he normally throws around 94-96 and hits 98) and shake off the rust, however this is very encouraging, and we will see Pryor in a Mariners uniform, baring any setbacks, sometime in the next couple of months…although there is no current time table for his return.
Walker is slated to start the season on the DL, however it looks like a return to the lineup in mid to late April or early May is in order if all goes well.