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Taijuan Walker’s strong start in return a silver lining for Mets


The bats and bullpen didn’t delay their ends Saturday night, however the Mets have to be ok with what they received from starting pitcher Taijuan Walker in his return from the injured list.

The 2021 All-Star hurled five shutout innings in a 4-1 loss to the Phillies, his first start in nearly three weeks. Walker had posted two scoreless frames in his first outing of the season, on April 11 in Philadelphia, before leaving with a shoulder injury that later was diagnosed as bursitis.

“I felt really good, just the shoulder and getting through five innings finally, and feeling good with it,” said Walker, who also was slowed by a knee injury firstly of spring training. “My shoulder feels great, my knee feels great. I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine and pitching again in five days.”

The 29-year-old righty said Friday that his “shoulder feels brand latest” since he received an injection during his stay on the injured list. He allowed two singles — by Nick Castellanos within the second and Alec Bohm within the third — and walked two on 73 pitches before Trevor May relieved him with a 1-0 lead to start out the sixth.

Taijuan WalkerCorey Sipkin

“I believe yet one more outing where I’m limited so far as pitch-count, but I feel like I’ll have the ability to go six to seven innings and sustain with our starters right away,” Walker said. “Everyone seems to be going deep into games and that’s type of the goal for me right away, to go on the market and to attempt to get deep into games.”

Mets manager Buck Showalter simply is glad to have Walker, who also picked Castellanos off first base following his single, healthy and available.

“It was good to see him get back within the fight with us,” Showalter said. “It’s been tough on him, being away. It looks like hopefully he’s put himself able to contribute.

“He had good life on his fastball, had all of his pitches, and he felt good physically. It was a troublesome decision within the fifth inning, but I wanted him to get the fifth if I could. … He was near where we desired to take him, that’s why I had a pitcher ready in case there was a difficulty there, but he was capable of finish the fifth.”

Walker’s next scheduled turn likely might be in Philadelphia next weekend, which might mean his first three spread-out starts this season could be against Joe Girardi’s club.

“I feel like I got like six pitches now I can throw on the market,” Walker said. “I would love to throw more first-pitch strikes and get ahead more, but I believe I’m just keeping them off balance. I believe I gave up like one or two hard-hit balls tonight. If I can limit the hard contact and keep them off-balance, I believe I can have pretty good success.”

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