While he was reportedly on track for a swift return from injury and a spot in the Seattle Mariners rotation, right-hander Taijuan Walker hit a bit of a snag on Tuesday, as he was unable to make a start during his Minor League rehab in Tacoma.
Taijuan Walker was scratched from his rehab start tonight in Tacoma due to stiffness in his throwing shoulder.
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) April 15, 2014
According to multiple reports, Walker’s inability to pitch was simply a case of feeling “stiff”, but dealing with shoulder injuries with a high-leverage pitcher is never a positive thing, and this can only be described a setback, however minor it may be. Coming out of Spring Training, the 21-year-old Walker was penciled in for a rotation spot after displaying the stuff that made him an elite level prospect, but the shoulder issues kept him out of the lineup in the early going, and he is trying to make his way back.
In 15 MLB innings last season, Walker posted a 3.60 ERA (2.25 FIP), and prior to that, he was dominant throughout the minors despite being relatively young at every level. The Mariners have struggled in the rotation without Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma available, and the latest step they were forced to take involved recalling former big-time prospect Blake Beavan for an unexpected start.
It will likely be a day or two before anything definitive with regard to Walker’s recovery is released, but until then, the Mariners will be holding their breath.