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March 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Walker takes another step toward return

Another bullpen session, another step forward for Mariners rookie pitcher Taijuan Walker on his road to returning to the mound.

Walker was shut down on Feb. 28 due to shoulder bursitis.

After a week off, he began the gradual return, which today included a 40-pitch bullpen session that included what he said was “10 or 11” curveballs.

The curves, he said, were “pretty good” and he had no soreness afterward.

“It’s really good,” he said of how his arm felt afterward. “So I’m pumped about that.”

Walker said he threw to two imaginary hitters, joking that he got two strikeouts on six pitches.

“I was kind of in that mindset of game mode kind of, so I felt really good,” he said. “So I was pumped about that so I let it loose a little bit.”

As always, how he feels tomorrow will also be a key.

Walker said he doesn’t know what’s next other than a planned session of catch tomorrow and then taking it from there.

Walker said he thinks he’s close to being able to face a live batter, which would be the next significant step.

“I think so,” he said. “My last two bullpens have been really good. My bullpen two bullpens ago was one of the best bullpens of my career, I thought. I was locating and my arm strength was up, too. So I feel like I’m pretty close.”

Watch Walker talk below:

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