NEW YORK — The Mariners pushed Taijuan Walker’s next rehab start back one day — from Monday to Tuesday — for Triple-A Tacoma at El Paso.
Not much mystery there: It puts Walker on a timetable to step into the big-league rotation, on normal rest, for his next start…if circumstances warrant.
There are two key factors:
How Walker performs in the second start of his current rehab assignment. Gauging that performance includes that he avoid any recurrence of the shoulder soreness that surfaced in February and returned in mid-April.
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Also: How Erasmo Ramirez performs Tuesday when recalled to the majors from Tacoma to start at Atlanta. He was 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA in six previous starts.
Manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed Monday that “our plans are to start Erasmo tomorrow (Tuesday)” against the Braves in Atlanta.
Ramirez is filling the spot created by the decision to option Brandon Maurer to Tacoma after a poor performance last Thursday dropped him to 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA in seven starts.
The Mariners must make a space-clearing roster move prior to Tuesday night’s game in Atlanta to accommodate Ramirez’s return.
The move will, almost certainly, involve a non-pitcher. Those most at risk are infielder Nick Franklin and outfielders Stefen Romero and Cole Gillespie. Franklin and Romero have options remaining.
It’s likely another move is on the horizon to make room for veteran outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady, who is at Tacoma after agreeing last week to a minor-league deal.
Club officials, at the time, said the plan was for Nady to sharpen his timing for a handful of games at Tacoma before coming to the big leagues.
A decision is also coming within a week on outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison, who began a rehab assignment May 23 at Tacoma in his recovery from a strained right hamstring.
Such assignments for non-pitchers are limited to 20 days. The Mariners could choose to activate Morrison and option him to Tacoma because he has options remaining.
“Some games are OK,” McClendon said. “Other games are not too good. He needs at-bats.”
Morrison is batting .324 (11-for-34) with nine runs scored, one homer and two RBIs in nine games for the Rainiers.