Taijuan Walker may not have been able to throw, but it didn’t stop the young right-hander from getting his conditioning and leg and core strengthening work in today.
A winded Walker spoke to the media post-workout and tried to put on a positive face after being shut down for seven days with bursitis in his right shoulder.
“It definitely sucks, but I feel good about the situation,” he said. “I’d rather not push it and try to fight throwing something and make it worse. I’m just going to take the time off and get healthy first and move on.”
Walker came to camp battling some shoulder soreness. Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said a few days ago that Walker felt shoulder soreness in December which limited his offseason throwing program and put him behind when he came into camp.
After a few days of treatment, Walker appeared ready to catch up with his teammates. He threw a pair of 25-pitch bullpen sessions. But the shoulder didn’t respond as hoped.
He could feel it when he threw.
“Just a little, but it wasn’t painful,” he said. “I wasn’t like, ‘oh this hurts.’”
But the nagging discomfort was an issue.
“It’s just something that wouldn’t go away,” he said. “It’s been nagging at me. I was feeling good for a while. Everything was going well, I was throwing and stuff and threw a couple of bullpens, and it kind of swelled up a little bit, flamed up.”
Walker is trying not to analyze whether or not he will be ready by opening day because of this setback.
“Honestly, I’m just going to take it day by day and see how I feel each day and worry about the start of the season,” he said. “I’m just going to worry about getting healthy first. I don’t want to get it to ahead of myself and try to push anything.”
He’s trying to look at the big picture.
“I was looking forward to try and win a rotation spot to start the season,” he said. “It is what is. Now I’m behind a little bit. I have to fight my way back up.”
So what is in store for Walker going forward?
After the seven days rest, he will start playing catch from about 65 feet for about 5-8 minutes, according to trainer Rick Griffin.
“He has to be pain free when he plays catch for several days,” Griffin said.
And that’s during the session and day after the session.
Walker will then graduate to long toss for several days, where he must be pain free during and after.
Then Walker will get on the mound for bullpen sessions.
Mariners pitchers were threw three bullpens before stepping on the mound to face live pitching. They had two separate live BP sessions and were ready for Cactus League games.
It will be a little different for Walker. The Mariners would have him throw in simulated games next. It’s a more controlled environment that the Mariners monitor closely.
Griffin has written out a three-week plan, but that doesn’t mean Walker will be ready in three weeks.
“What I told Lloyd and Rick Waits, it’s easy to write a program out of three weeks, but that doesn’t mean you can follow the program,” Griffin said. “They have to be able to do what you planned for the next day. You want them to be able to what you planned for the next day, but you can’t say they’re going to do something in three weeks because you don’t know. In a perfect world, you write something on a piece of paper and it goes like that. But that happens about once in 500 tries. We’ll just have to go through that progression.”
Griffin said that Brandon Maurer threw a 36-pitch bullpen on Thursday.
“Rick Waits said it was his best bullpen of the spring,” Griffin said. “He’s scheduled to throw to live hitters on Sunday.”
Griffin will find out the results of Hisashi Iwakuma’s meeting with a hand specialist later today. He said that one of the reasons Iwakuma was forced to wear the splint for so long is that the splitfinger fastball puts tremendous pressure on the injured finger.
Iwakuma has been doing “shadow bullpens” where he goes through the delivery and arm motion while holding a towel. These are typical Japan. Iwakuma has done 40-pitch shadow bullpens in the last week.