Taijuan Walker to make 2014 season debut on Monday

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Taijuan Walker was expected to open 2014 as a member of the Mariners’ starting rotation, but shoulder problems threw him off in spring training and he was placed on the disabled list when Opening Day rolled around. The kid is now finally ready.

MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports that Walker, a 21-year-old right-hander who was rated a Top 10 prospect this winter by MLB.com, is scheduled to make his season debut on Monday night against the Astros. “As of now, if all goes well and it’s not official, but we’ll start Walker on Monday and a move is pending,” manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB.com late Saturday.

Walker debuted at the major league level in 2013, posting a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 12/4 K/BB ratio in 15 innings (three starts). He owns a 3.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 446 strikeouts in 411 2/3 minor league innings.

The Mariners are still alive in the American League West and the American League Wild Card race with a 43-38 record and +47 run differential. If Walker meets the hype, he’ll obviously help the cause.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.