Barring any setbacks, the return of Mariners prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker is right around the corner.
It’s just not here yet.
Blake Beavan will start Tuesday against the Texas Rangers, while Walker will make a start in Tacoma as he continues rehabbing from a shoulder injury. The choice came down to Beavan or Walker for the starting spot Tuesday, but manager Lloyd McClendon said Beavan was “physically ready to make this start.” Walker still has some work to do.
“He needs to continue to get stronger, continue to command all his pitches,” McClendon said. “He’s progressing well. We’re very pleased with where he is at this point. We just need to get that pitch count up and that pitch ability up a little more.”
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Walker’s numbers have been impressive in his two minor-league starts, the first for Class A High Desert and the second for Class AA Jackson. He has 17 strikeouts in just 91
3 innings and has allowed one run. He’s also walked only one batter.
But Walker didn’t pitch many innings this spring because of shoulder bursitis, and that’s the biggest concern right now. The Mariners want him to return without any limitations when he joins them.
Beavan, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts for the Rainiers this season. He hasn’t had as much success when pitching for the Mariners.
In parts of three seasons, he has a 4.61 ERA, including a 6.13 ERA last season. He started two games last season for the Mariners, but pitched mostly out of the bullpen with the big-league club.
Beavan started 26 games in 2012 for the Mariners and had a 4.43 ERA. He will join in the Mariners in Texas on Monday and will be activated Tuesday. McClendon wouldn’t talk specifics, but the Mariners will likely swap Beavan for a reliever.
The Mariners traded pitcher Hector Noesi to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash considerations in an effort to salvage something from his time as a Mariner.
The Mariners designated Noesi for assignment April 4 to make room on the roster for reliever Dominic Leone.
Noesi spent most of last season with Class AAA Tacoma where he went 3-3 with a 5.83 ERA in 15 appearances, including 11 starts. In parts of three big-league seasons with the Mariners, Noesi has gone 2-14 in with 6.13 ERA in 36 appearances (19 starts).
The Mariners acquired Noesi along with designated hitter Jesus Montero in a trade that sent pitcher Michael Pineda and a minor-league pitcher to the Yankees.
Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma continued rehabbing from a strained ligament in his middle finger by throwing a 45-pitch bullpen session before the game. Iwakuma threw all of his pitches but his split-finger, which he will throw in his next bullpen session Tuesday.
“My ball felt a lot better today,” Iwakuma said. “It came out of my hand a lot better today. Everything is good.”
Iwakuma, an All-Star last year who turned 33 Saturday, said he’s “almost there” and that his rehab is pointing in the right direction. He will likely throw a simulated game against live hitters next weekend.
Staff reporter Ryan Divish contributed
to this report.