Walker, Pryor thrilled with Minor League outings

Walker, Pryor thrilled with Minor League outings

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Top Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker gave up two hits and a run in a one-inning start in a Minor League game against the Padres' Triple-A club Saturday, and he said his arm felt great in his first game appearance of the spring.

Walker, 21, arrived at camp in early February with a sore shoulder and was shut down for a week starting Feb. 28 after being diagnosed with inflammation in his bursa. But he's been pain-free since then, throwing three strong bullpen sessions in the previous nine days before making his spring debut on the Padres' main practice field.

Walker gave up a double and a triple and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed one run to cross the plate, but he was thrilled that he felt strong in a 15-pitch stint that saw his fastball clocked at 93-96 mph.

"I was pumped," Walker told reporters afterward. "I was trying not to be. I felt like I wasn't overthrowing or trying to throw too hard. It's a lot different with a hitter in there. You have to spot up and throw strikes."

Walker threw mostly fastballs and a few changeups in the game, then went to the bullpen and threw 15 more pitches, including some breaking balls, to complete his day's work.

"I walk away happy because my arm feels good," he said. "This was like a test game to see how it felt. The location and all that will come. I felt pretty good. My fastball location was pretty good. Not where I wanted, but I was happy with it."

Right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor followed with a 1-2-3 second inning, his first game action since having surgery on the latissimus dorsi muscle behind his right shoulder in August.

Pryor needed only 11 pitches to get two groundouts and a strikeout.

"I was excited," Pryor said. "This is the first time my arm has felt right since I got hurt last year in April. So it's almost been a year. I was excited and I'm glad it went the way it did. It's something to build off of. I feel back to normal. I'm not thinking where my arm slot is or whether this one is going to hurt or not, so it's been really nice."

Both pitchers will open the season on the disabled list but are hoping to return in mid- to late-April if all goes well.

"They threw the ball well," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "Very encouraging. Everything is starting to move in a positive direction."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.