By Shannon Drayer
Taijuan Walker checked out of his first rehab start just fine and will throw a bullpen tomorrow. After that he should get at least one or two more rehab starts. Manager Lloyd McClendon made it clear that he will not be rushed. There is absolutely no pressure to get him up to the big leagues quickly.
“I don’t fight it because I’m always trying to look at the big picture,” he said. “And it’s my job to also look at his career, protect his career. So, no, I don’t fight it.”
McClendon pointed out that Walker basically missed spring training and that he will not only need to show that he is healthy, but he will also have to earn a spot.
They need him pitching well when they bring him up.
“If he was healthy in spring training, he’d have to make the club. Nothing was given,” he said. “And I think we’re under the assumption now that he was given a spot on this club and that’s just not the case. He’d still have to compete for a spot. Now, I want him to do good, believe me, I want him here, but he’s got to prove that he’s healthy, he’s got to get the rust off, he’s got to be ready to compete at this level on a consistent basis.”
• Brandon Maurer’s struggles will not impact what they do with Walker. He will not be rushed. McClendon did not have answers as to what is next for Maurer after giving up five runs in four innings tonight. It obviously was not the performance he was looking for. Erasmo Ramirez could be a consideration should they choose to make a change. He is on turn with Maurer and pitched tonight, giving up two runs in six innings for the Rainiers. A good performance, but he has hardly been consistent since being sent down, as he’s 0-3 with a 4.55 ERA and .304 opposing batters average. He has had success at the big league level at times, however.
• Most of the media was caught in the horrific traffic today (self included) so the group on hand to talk to McClendon was rather light. A number of ballplayers including Felix Hernandez, Fernando Rodney and one member of the Angels also had trouble getting in. See folks, we are all in the same boat here!
• I talked to Felix about changing up his game plan yesterday and going more with the fastball than the changeup, particularly early.
“The last four games, every team with two strikes, they were trying to sit on my breaking ball instead of my change-up,” he said. “When I realized that I was reading some swings, they would sit on that pitch and I would go after them with my fastball. They are always looking for the change-up, they know I am going to throw it anyways but yesterday they were a little surprised with the fastball.”