By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
PEORIA, Ariz. — The Seattle Mariners continue their go-slow approach with right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker, who got a late start on throwing workouts after reporting to camp with some shoulder soreness.
Walker threw two bullpen sessions last week without any setbacks, but club officials then put him on the shelf for a few days as a precaution. He is tentatively scheduled to return to the mound today.
“That’s the plan,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Keep moving him forward. He has a couple of scheduled days off, and then he’ll get back out there.”
Eyes on Beimel
Veteran lefty reliever Joe Beimel is ticketed for duty in Thursday’s spring opener against San Diego after some encouraging sessions in his ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery.
“I like what I’ve seen to this point,” McClendon said. “The ball is coming out real nice. The velocity is up. He’s got late movement in the zone.”
Beimel, 36, spent last season at Class AAA Gwinnett in the Atlanta system — compiling a 4.36 ERA in 30 games — after missing all of 2012 because of reconstructive-elbow surgery.
“He’s an interesting guy,” McClendon said. “He’s a veteran guy who has had success. He’s pitched in big ballgames. It’s a matter of health.”
Beimel pitched for McClendon in Pittsburgh from 2001-03 and has logged time with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington and Colorado while going 24-32 with a 4.21 ERA in 567 games over 11 years.
On the bump
San Diego lists left-handed pitcher Eric Stults as its starter Thursday for the Cactus League opener against the Mariners at Peoria Stadium.
The Mariners are expected to start right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and also use Blake Beavan, Logan Kensing, Lucas Luetge, Tom Wilhelmsen, Beimel and Danny Farquhar.
Robinson Cano will produce a .284/.349/.462 slash (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) with 22 homers and 85 RBI in 156 games, in the just-released ZIPS projections on www.FanGraphs.com.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez will go 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 2111/3 innings in the computations by Dan Szymborski. You can see projections for all of the Mariners at this link: http://bit.ly/1k5whBC.
The Mariners will simulate game conditions for the first time this spring today in an intrasquad game. Emphasis on simulate.
Plans call for the game to last no more than five innings, and the projected starting lineups contain few front-line players. One notable exception: Brad Miller and Nick Franklin are the starting shortstops.
The projected pitchers are mostly long shots to make the roster. Lefty Roenis Elias will start for one side, followed by Hector Noesi, James Gilheeney, Logan Bawcom and Jonathan Arias.
Lefty Anthony Fernandez will start for the other side, followed by Andrew Carraway, Stephen Kohlscheen and Chance Ruffin.
The tentative lineups:
C Jesus Sucre, 1B Jesus Montero, 2B Ty Kelly, SS Miller, 3B Nate Tenbrink, LF Cole Gillespie, CF James Jones, RF Stefen Romero and DH Chris Taylor.
C Manny Pina, 1B Ji-Man Choi, 2B Carlos Triunfel, SS Franklin, 3B Hector Noriega, LF Jabari Blash (up from minor-league minicamp), CF Abraham Almonte, RF Xavier Avery and DH Burt Reynolds.
Ken Griffey Jr. created a stir by making a camp appearance … The Mets are showing interest in Franklin, according to an ESPNNewYork.com report … Not that it means anything, but the Mariners shook up their infield hitting groups. Franklin and Logan Morrison replaced Miller and Justin Smoak in the first group with Cano and Kyle Seager. Miller and Smoak joined the second group with Bloomquist and Mike Zunino. … McClendon continues to tout Stefen Romero as a strong outfield candidate. “He’s certainly in the mix,” McClendon said. “He’s going to get an opportunity to see what he can do.”