Just before taking the mound in the first inning on Tuesday, Taijuan Walker could feel his nerves awaken. It might have been spring training, but the new Diamondbacks right-hander had a few things on his mind as he made his Cactus League debut.
First game of the year. First outing since surgery. First time putting a new delivery into action.
But everything came together nicely for Walker, who struck out three in two scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
“I was feeling good the whole time and then when we had two outs (in the top of the first) I started getting nervous, even though it’s spring training,” Walker said. “But right when the batter stepped in, I felt good. I felt real confident and comfortable.”
Walker, the Diamondbacks’ most notable offseason acquisition, struck out the first two batters he faced, Drew Robinson and Travis Snider, then gave up a single to Jonathan Lucroy before striking out Mike Napoli to end the inning.
He admitted it felt good to rack up strikeouts, but he thought the bigger developments were perhaps less noticeable. For one, he said his ankle felt good in its first test since he had bone fragments removed from it in October.
To read more of this story from Nick Piecoro, click here.