MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
San Diego0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 081
Arizona0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 170
  W: S. Crichton (1-0)   L: M. Strahm (6-11)
12:10 PM PT1:10 PM MT2:10 PM CT3:10 PM ET15:10 ET19:10 GMT3:10 12:10 PM MST2:10 PM EST2:40 PM VEN23:10 UAE2:10 PM CT, September 29, 2019
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona  Attendance: 45,446

Arizona P Walker to make first appearance in 17 months

Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker will pitch off a major league mound for the first time in 533 days when throws the first pitch against the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix.

He wants to feel that nervous anticipation again.

"I haven't done it in two seasons," Walker told reporters, "so to walk in here (clubhouse), get breakfast, start getting ready for the game, start getting the butterflies an hour before the game ... everyone gets nervous. Everyone has his butterflies. It's part of being an athlete and being a baseball player.

"I haven't had a chance to have them for the last couple of years, so I'm actually looking forward to it."

Walker, who has not pitched for the Diamondbacks since April 14, 2018, is to oppose San Diego rookie right-hander Michel Baez (1-1, 3.25 ERA) in the final game of the regular season.

The Diamondbacks clinched the season series with a 6-5 comeback victory on Saturday, when Christian Walker hit two home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh, and Robbie Ray struck out 10 to extend his personal-best season total to 235.

San Diego received an encouraging outing from Garrett Richards, who like Taijuan Walker is returning from Tommy John surgery. Richards gave up one run, a Christian Walker homer, in 3 1/3 innings and is looking for a spot in the 2020 rotation.

"There is a lot of work to be done, but I am happy with where I am at as far as the whole picture goes," Richards said.

Taijuan Walker is scheduled to pitch one inning and Baez, who has been used as a reliever since his major league debut on July 23, also is expected to have a short outing of two or three innings.

Like Luke Weaver, who missed four months this season with a right forearm strain, Walker is a favorite to rejoin the starting rotation next season alongside veterans Ray and Mike Leake. Weaver threw 19 pitches when he returned to the mound on Sept. 21.

It has been a long journey back for Walker, who was 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 28 starts for the Diamondbacks in 2017 after being acquired with Ketel Marte in an offseason trade with Seattle.

Walker was removed from that April 2018 start in San Francisco because of forearm tightness, and he underwent Tommy John surgery two weeks later. The tentative plan was for him to return this July, but he suffered a capsule strain of his right shoulder in a May rehab appearance and was shut down for six weeks after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection.

Walker has no concerns about the course his rehab took.

"I think we did everything right," he said. "Took our time. Stuck to the program. It was just something that happened, a fluke thing. It has happened to a couple of guys coming back from Tommy John. It's just part of the process."

Baez has only been scored on in five of his 23 appearances spanning 27 2/3 innings this season. And a pair of three-run appearances skewed his ERA.

A native of Cuba, Baez features a fastball that averages 96.1 mph and a changeup at 86.1, according to Fangraphs. He was a starter in his first two seasons in the Padres' organization before being moved to the bullpen full-time this year.

--Field Level Media

Updated September 29, 2019

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