Taijuan Walker was shut down last week after he was diagnosed with inflammation in the bursa of his right shoulder, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that he’s scheduled to resume throwing Thursday.
Walker has been limited for most of the spring, so even if all goes well Thursday, it’s expected that he’ll need three weeks to get ready for game action. While the start of the season is out the window at this point, the 21-year-old could join the Mariners’ rotation in mid-April if he can avoid setbacks.
With Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma both sidelined, the Mariners could very well begin the season with a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Scott Baker, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, and Brandon Maurer.
Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.
Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.