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Taijuan Walker’s season was put on hold after just two innings in his first start.

But almost three weeks later, after a stint on the injured list for shoulder bursitis, the Mets right-hander will get back on the mound Saturday against the Phillies hoping to fit right into a rotation that has been thriving without him.

“I’ve been itching,” Walker said before the Mets’ 3-0 win over the Phillies on Friday at Citi Field. “I threw against our guys [in a simulated game on Monday] and the way my stuff’s coming out of my hand right now and the way my stuff is moving, it’s the best I’ve felt and I think the best my stuff has looked in a long time.”

Walker said his “shoulder feels brand new,” after receiving an injection as part of his treatment for the injury, and the right knee that he had surgically repaired in the offseason also “feels really good.” He said he should be built up to pitch at least five innings, after throwing 64 pitches in Monday’s simulated game in St. Louis.

In his 2022 debut, also against the Phillies, Walker threw two perfect innings with four strikeouts before he was removed from the game with shoulder irritation. Left-hander David Peterson replaced him in that game and also made two solid starts in his spot while Walker was on the IL, helping the Mets rotation post a 2.67 ERA through its first 20 games of the season.

Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker
USA TODAY Sports

While Walker’s fellow starters’ success made him want to get back even quicker, it also allowed him the time to make sure he was fully healthy before he returned.

“I want to be out there pitching and competing, but we got such a good staff,” said Walker, who made one rehab start in addition to the simulated game. “It sucks, I feel bad, Peterson was throwing the crap out of the ball and he had to be sent down. Everyone who steps in has been pitching well. So having that depth is nice. We didn’t have that last year, so a lot of guys had to pitch through some nagging stuff that they could have taken a break [from]. But when we’re all healthy and everyone’s going good, it’s gonna be good. It’ll be good in the long run too.”

Coming off the shoulder injury, Walker said he tweaked his mechanics from what he showed in his season debut.

“I just went back to my old mechanics, simple,” he said. “Trying to just simplify everything, less movements, and I think that’s been really good and helpful for me to repeat everything.”

Source: NYPOST

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