Mariners notebook: More praise for Taijuan Walker
TORONTO – Taijuan Walker was still the buzz at Rogers Centre the day after his brilliant start against the Blue Jays. Toronto manager Jay Gibbons told Aaron Goldsmith on the Mariners’ pregame show that in his eyes, Walker lived up to the hype.
“He was very impressive,” Gibbons said. “I had never seen him pitch before but you hear around baseball that he is one of the top guys, top up-and-coming prospects. Anybody who wanted to make a deal with the Mariners, he had to be in it, that kind of guy, and you can see why.”
The new split-change was a bit of a surprise to the Jays, according to Gibbons.
“I didn’t know it was that good,” he said. “It shows you for a young guy he is ahead of the game. A lot of times for big arms it takes a while to get that, but he’s got some pretty good guys over there he is hanging around that have been around and been successful. I’m sure he’s picked up some things from them. That was very impressive.
“Realistically, if you look at it, that was as good a game we’ve seen pitched against us all year. We were fortunate enough to get the win.”
Walker admitted this morning that there were butterflies for him heading into the game.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” he said with a laugh. “Before the game I was like, ‘Oh man, OK, OK.’ I was nervous. But after the first pitch everything went away and I just locked in.”
Walker said that it was hard to put the ball down after that outing. He wants to keep pitching. His preference was to pitch with the Mariners in the postseason, but it appears that he will instead next pick up a ball in the Arizona Fall League. While he is not yet on the roster for the Mariners, the club would like both him and James Paxton to get additional innings after missing significant time this season, and it looks like that will happen in Arizona.
Austin Jackson, 8
Chris Taylor, 6
Robinson Cano, DH
Kendrys Morales, 3
Kyle Seager, 5
Logan Morrison, 7
Michael Saunders, 9
Mike Zunino, 2
Brad Miller, 4
• Tom Wilhelmsen gets the start but has not been stretched out recently, so manager Lloyd McClendon plans to keep him in the neighborhood of 40-45 pitches today. Chris Young is available out of the bullpen.
• Robinson Cano is getting a little break by DHing today. McClendon said it was time to get him off his feet.
“You didn’t see him in the dugout between innings yesterday? He had that roller trying to roll out his legs a little bit? It’s been a brutal road trip in a lot of different ways,” McClendon said. “He’s almost on empty so we are getting him off his feet a little bit to see if we can rejuvenate him.”
• McClendon also dropped an interesting note when asked if he thought Hisahsi Iwakuma’s recent struggles may be linked to missing spring training.
“From a mechanical standpoint, he’s had some issues with his back and groin, nothing major that might have thrown him off a little bit,” McClendon said, acknowledging that these are recent troubles and not season-long. “He’s a competitor, he’s so good that when he has a bad outing we are all shocked. Hopefully his next outing he will be back on track.”