Pregame notes, quotes, matchups and lineups for Wednesday's game between the Mariners and Pirates. Pitcher Taijuan Walker threw a three-inning simulated game and is ready to go on a rehab assignment.

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PITTSBURGH — Taijuan Walker’s return to the Mariners’ starting rotation might be just one pain-free rehab outing away from being a reality. On Wednesday afternoon at an empty PNC Park, Walker threw a three-inning simulated game and had no issues with the troublesome right foot that landed him on the disabled list.

Pitching to switch-hitter Luis Sardinas, Walker threw three innings of around 15 pitches each. He threw from the full windup, the stretch, covered first base on groundballs and fielded bunts off the mound.

“I was okay with it,” said manager Scott Servais, who watched carefully. “I think the intensity level, the effort level was pretty good. I wouldn’t say it was 100 percent. But it was about as good as you can ask for. I think he took it very seriously and knew he needed to.”

And the right foot that has been plagued by tendinitis?

“No pain, nothing,” Walker said.

Servais made it clear that he wanted Walker to bring game-like intensity to the session. And Walker felt like he complied.

“I started to get a little tired but I was able to keep the same intensity,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything at all, covering first base, fielding a bunt, everything.”

Walker’s command didn’t match his intensity. His fastball wandered over the middle of the plate at times. But it was improved from  his bullpen session in Toronto.

“It was better,” he said. “My fastball command is a little off still. I thought my breaking ball was good, my slider was good and I had a few good changeups. But my fastball command needs to be better.”

For Walker, the larger importance was focusing on using his legs in his delivery, something he hasn’t been able to do in the past with the foot injury. It’s key for his velocity and taking pressure off his arm. He checked where he was planting with his lead foot in delivery and how far his back would drag after pushing off the rubber. He was pleased with what he saw.

“To pitch inside, you really have to drive the ball in through to a left and I was getting it in there,” he said. “Just looking at my stride length and my toe drag, you could definitely see I was getting after it.”

The plan now is for Walker to throw a bullpen session on Friday in Chicago and then pitch on Monday on a rehab stint — most likely in Tacoma. Servais wouldn’t commit to just one rehab outing for Walker before a return to the rotation.

“We’ll see how he does,” Servais said. “I don’t want to say he’s out on one rehab and then he comes back. I want to make sure that everybody that sees him pitch wherever he’s at – the trainers, the coaches for whatever affiliate he’s at feels really good about it. I’m sure we’ll send a special assistant in there to see him as well.”

Servais wants Walker pitching at full capability when he returns to the rotation. If a second rehab outing is needed, then so be it.

“It’s really important and I expressed that to him yesterday,” Servais said. “There’s a big enough window in our season that he can certainly make an impact. We really need him healthy and ready to go.”


Lineup notes

Nelson Cruz is out of the starting lineup. With no designated hitter and Cruz fouling another ball off the inside of his leg in Tuesday night’s win, Servais gave him a day off. And with Thursday’s off day, he’ll get an extra day of rest.

“He wants to play,” Servais said. “He’s not real happy with me. But sometimes you have to take it out of the player’s hands. I really appreciate how he goes about his business. He’s a grinder and he will play through the pain and all that other stuff. Going first to third last night, it was certainly bothering him. He can’t DH here, obviously. Looking ahead we’ve got three games in Chicago and we want to have him in there.”

Cruz, who was receiving treatment on the bruised foot and shin before the game, is available to pinch hit if needed.

The Mariners roll out all their lefties against right-hander Gerrit Cole.

While Cole’s career splits have him pretty even, this season left-handed hitters have hurt him a little more than in past seasons.

This season:

Career splits:



*** Servais was very pleased with the reports coming from Seattle on the health of reliever Nick Vincent. The right-hander threw out to 120 feet the past few days.

“He felt great coming into today,” Servais said. “He will get ramped up and throw a bullpen this weekend, probably in Tacoma.”

The plan is for Vincent to throw two bullpen sessions and then start rehab stint of two to three relief appearances.

*** Drew Storen arrived just as the Mariners were to take the field for batting practice. He talked at length with bullpen coach Mike Hampton and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. Servais understood the reasoning behind the deal.

“I think it’s a situation where you are hoping a change of scenery probably helps both guys,” he said. “I don’t know Storen’s whole story in Toronto. But if you look at the numbers, it’s kind of similar. He gave up a lot of hits and just wasn’t as effective as he was in the past. We obviously saw him on Saturday and he didn’t have a great outing. It was the last outing he had for Toronto. But in a situation like this, you are just trying to catch lightning in a bottle. I think Mel has done a nice getting (Tom) Wilhelmsen going again; maybe we can get (Storen) going.”


Batter vs. starting pitcher matchups

Pirates numbers vs. James Paxton … only three hitters have ever faced Paxton


Mariners numbers vs. Gerrit Cole … Just a handful of hitters have faced him

American League West and Wildcard Standings


On this day in Mariners’ history

  • 1977 -The Mariners exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning, paving the way for a 12-2 drubbing of the visiting Oakland A’s.
  • 1982 – Dave Edler hits two HRs including a game-winning grand slam in a 9-7 win vs. Minnesota.
  • 1985 – Gorman Thomas homered twice as the Mariners defeated the Boston Red Sox, 10-3, in the Kingdome.  Roy Thomas pitched 6.1 innings of one-hit relief for the win.
  • 1988 – Woody Woodward replaced Dick Balderson as the Mariners Vice President of Baseball Operations.
  • 1995 – Tim Belcher won his third straight start and pitched his first complete game in two years in an 11-5 victory vs. Cleveland.
  • 1996 – Ken Griffey Jr. hits two HR in a 13-7 win vs. Detroit. The second bomb landed in the Kingdome’s third deck.
  • 1996 – For the first time ever, Seattle completes a three-game sweep of the Yankees in New York.
  • 2008 – Dave Niehaus receives the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award in Cooperstown, NY as part of Hall of Fame Weekend.
  • 2011 – The Mariners snapped a club-record 17-game losing streak with a 9-2 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Carp each recorded 4 hits in the victory. Seattle scored 5 runs in the 7th inning to open up what was then a 2-1 game.


Pitching probables


Game notes