Taijuan Walker will start for the Mariners on Wednesday, manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Walker made two starts for Class AAA Tacoma during the All-Star break and drew criticism from McClendon after his first start in which he needed 83 pitches to get through five innings.
“That’s not a good outing, I’m sorry,” McClendon said at the time. “Not for me. And you can write it. I don’t give a (expletive). I’m sure his agent will be calling mad at me, but we gotta do better.”
Walker will start Wednesday, McClendon said, because McClendon taxed his bullpen too much in the series against the Angels. McClendon had debated starting long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen on Wednesday but decided against it because of the bullpen’s recent workload.
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Walker has worked to corral some of the issues that led to his control problems. Walker went only four innings in his last start with the Mariners. He threw 83 pitches and walked five batters. That lack of control continued in his two starts in Tacoma.
Walker said the problem started with the lower half of his body, which caused him to have an inconsistent release point on pitches, which caused his control issues.
“Watching video from last year and this year, it was just my lower half,” Walker said. “There’s no drive, no legs in it. And when I did use my legs, they were flying open. I noticed last year I was closed off more when I finished. This year I just feel like everything is open.”
Walker also said he understood McClendon’s criticism but would use it as motivation.
“Obviously, I need to be better,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be better too. I wasn’t pleased with my start, so stuff like that is just motivation. I know I need to be better, and they expect me to be better. I just took that as motivation.”
Walker’s name has been linked to just about every possible trade rumor involving the Mariners. He said it’s hard not to follow what’s going on, but he said his mom is “the worst” about following it.
“I have to calm her down,” he said.
• Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop for the second straight game in place of struggling Brad Miller. Bloomquist had three hits on Monday, and McClendon called him a “spark” for the offense.
• McClendon said starter Roenis Elias, who left Monday’s game with a cramp in his left hand, checked out fine on Tuesday.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org