Prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker is still a couple of rehab starts away from joining the Seattle Mariners.
Walker, who hasn't pitched in the majors this season because of shoulder injuries, started Wednesday for Class AAA Tacoma. He produced uneven results: three innings, four earned runs, five hits and 61 pitches.
It was his first start since April because of stiffness in his shoulder, and manager Lloyd McClendon said the 21-year-old Walker would likely make at least one or two more starts in the minors before joining the Mariners.
"He's rusty," McClendon said. "Stuff is good, but he's rusty. It's going to take time. Walk didn't have much of a spring training. None, really. ... It's going to take some time. We're going to get the rust off him. I think the worst thing we can do is probably rush this young man back."
Walker missed most of spring training because of shoulder bursitis. He made two rehab starts in April, then was shut down again in mid-April after experiencing stiffness in his shoulder.
In his first start in more than a month, Walker said he struggled locating his fastball in the third inning, when he gave up all four runs. He admitted to being rusty but said his shoulder felt like it should on Thursday morning.
"It's sore, obviously," Walker said. "But it's just the normal soreness in the right spots. Nothing bad."
McClendon will see a lot of familiar faces starting Friday, when the Mariners play the Detroit Tigers. McClendon spent the past eight seasons in Detroit, the final seven as the team's hitting coach.
"It will be fun to see a lot of friends and a lot of people I consider family," McClendon said. "That's always going to be special. I'm excited about that, but I'll be trying to kick their ass."
NOTE: Robinson Cano was scratched from the lineup two hours before the game Thursday because he wasn't feeling well. Cano played in each of the Mariners' first 52 games of the season.
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