The Mariners have decided to shut down Taijuan Walker for seven days after an exam in Los Angeles revealed shoulder inflammation, according to the News Tribune's Bob Dutton. He'll resume throwing bullpens sessions soon, but for now the team is playing it safe with their top prospect.
Walker, 21, has been dealing with shoulder soreness for most of the offseason.
The team called the issue "nothing serious," but the frequency of reports on the matter have heightened concern that Walker could miss some time this season.
At this point, the M's appear to be exercising caution with Walker, and since the reports list "inflammation" rather than a tear or another form of long-term damage, there's still a reasonable chance that Walker will be able to start the season. However, reports like this one could lead the team to more vigilantly monitor his innings in 2014.
Last season, Walker posted a 3.60 ERA in three major league starts, and put up a 2.93 ERA in over 140 innings as a minor leaguer.
Seattle is already dealing with an injury to their No. 2 starter, Hisashi Iwakuma -- he has a strained tender in his pitching hand that isn't likely to cause him to miss any regular season starts. Injuries and concerns about innings totals for young arms like Walker and James Paxton could lead the Mariners to more seriously consider signing Ervin Santana.