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May 23, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Mariners’ Taijuan Walker says he’s ready for rehab assignment

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Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker said he felt “good” and “strong” this afternoon after throwing 56 pitches in a three-inning simulated game at Safeco Field.

Now, he believes, he’s ready for the next step in his return from a shoulder impingement: minor-league rehab assignments.

“I think I’m ready, yeah,” he said. “Everything felt good today. I didn’t get tired at the end. I felt like I was strong. I could’ve gone another inning or so.”

Walker sat at 93-94 mph on his fastball. He mixed in some cutters and about 10 curveballs to Brad Miller, Nick Franklin and Cole Gillespie.

“Today was good. Real good,” he said. “Everything was game-mode. I wasn’t trying to hold back anything. I just went right after ‘em.”

The past few months, Walker said, have “sucked” as he has been out. “I definitely want to be out there pitching,” he said. “It sucks being up here watching.”

Walker has made some mechanical changes to his delivery, specifically with his leg drive and follow-through, that he believes will help.

“I definitely think so,” he said. “I feel like after I pitch a game, the next day I won’t be as sore as I usually would because I’m using my legs and finishing, so I’m taking all that stress off my arm.”

Mariners left-hander James Paxton will make his first rehab assignment for Tacoma in the first game of the Rainiers’ doubleheader on Saturday.

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