Taijuan Walker’s season came to an end Monday night when he made his final start, pitching five innings and giving up two runs in a no-decision that became a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros.
He finished his three-start stint with the Mariners with a 1-0 record, a 3.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.
“It was a short period of time, but I was very impressed with him,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “To get all those firsts out of the way and do it like he did it, which was in a very fine fashion, was big.”
Walker threw a career high 156 innings this season – his previous high was 1262/3 last year – and that’s why the Mariners shut down the 21-year-old right-hander.
But just because he is done pitching, it doesn’t mean Walker will be heading home. He will stay with the team and continue to work out and watch from the dugout. Wedge wants Walker to watch and learn from teammates while being a teammate.
“He’s going to watch a lot of baseball,” Wedge said. “Everything now is about preparing for next year. I think it’s a good thing to watch big league baseball and watch his teammates compete and feel good about his year.”
The watching is fine. It’s the not pitching that Walker finds tough.
“I’ve been shut down before,” Walker said. “It wasn’t fun watching everyone go out and pitch and not getting to.”
Still, Walker should feel good about this year. His success in the minors earned him a stint in the majors. And his success should earn him a chance to make Seattle’s opening-day rotation in 2014.
“No doubt about it,” Wedge said. “He most definitely should be. He should come in here next year and work to make this ballclub. He should definitely feel that way.”
That’s one reason the Mariners called him up in August; they want to eliminate some of the unknowns about pitching in the big leagues for Walker before he enters the rotation full time.
“He has a pretty good idea of how it works now,” Wedge said.
Walker also has a good idea of the things he wants to work in the offseason to be ready for 2014.
“I need to work on my breaking ball in the offseason,” Walker said. “I just have to go in the offseason and work hard and wait till next year.”
YANKEES TRADE FOR RYAN
With Derek Jeter again injured and the Yankees in need of help at shortstop, the Mariners traded Brendan Ryan to New York for a player to be named.
Ryan was notified shortly before Tuesday’s game. He played 87 games this season with the Mariners, hitting .192 with 10 doubles, three home runs and 21 RBI. He had lost his starting job to rookie Brad Miller and had started just 12 games since July 1.
IBAEZ PLAYS OUT OF RESPECT
To the frustration of some, Raul Ibañez started in left field Tuesday.
While Ibañez is beloved for his contributions to the organization during three stints, fans are complaining that Michael Saunders should be getting the bulk of the remaining playing time.
Ibañez, 41, obviously isn’t part of the Mariners’ long-range plans, while Saunders, 26, figures to play a role.
But Wedge is going to play who he wants, when he wants in the final games.
“I have group over here that says I should play him more and I have group over there saying I should play him less because of the younger kids,” Wedge said. “For me, it’s all about the respect that he’s earned. It is about the length of the season. I’m trying to walk that line to play him as much as I can, but also understand it’s important to get the young kids in as much as we can, too.”
Baseball released the tentative 2014 schedule, and the Mariners will open the season March 31 in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. The Mariners’ home opener will be April 8, also against the Angels. … The Little League regional champions in baseball and girls fastpitch threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Both teams are from Eastlake. The Eastlake Little League’s All-Star team finished third in the U.S. bracket in Williamsport, Pa. The collection of 11- and 12-year-olds swarmed Walker before the game for autographs. Walker, who recently turned 21, is just nine years older than some of the kids.
The Mariners wrap up the three-game series with the Astros with a 7:10 p.m. game Wednesday. Right-hander Brandon Maurer (4-7, 6.85 ERA) is scheduled to make his first start since May 28, while Houston is likely to go with right-hander Brad Peacock (4-5, 5.62). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/ @RyanDivish