Walden Just Needs Innings

Right-hander Marcus Walden, originally drafted in the ninth round of the 2007 MLB Draft, has finally returned after missing the majority of two seasons with Tommy John surgery. Showing some great stuff now with the Lansing Lugnuts this season, he and his coaches just want to focus on building him back up in 2011.

Marcus Walden, a starter back when he first signed with the Blue Jays, made just four starts for the Dunedin Blue Jays [2-1, 8.64 ERA] back in 2009 before his elbow began to hurt.

"I actually got hurt in April of 2009 in my fourth start in high-A, but before that I was going through a lot of mechanical changes from the time that I signed, Walden said. "I was pretty much just figuring out what to do mechanically and then my elbow blew out."

He tried to rehab the injury initially. In fact he spent the remainder of the 2009 season trying to do so before the inevitable happened - Tommy John surgery.

"I knew it was just a matter of time," he continued. "I tried to rehab it and I thought I was going to come back later that year and I ended up having [a] nerve flip, which [meant a] quicker rehab and came back in August of '09.

"I thought I was going to be able to come back in spring of 2010 and it just wasn't there so I wound up having Tommy John surgery and sat out the whole year. I learned a lot though the two years I sat. I watched over 400 games of baseball and learned a lot about the game."

He focused his studying to fixing his mechanics, including a delivery he says that is now completely different from the one he employed with Fresno Community College in his amateur days.

"For the most part they're there now," he said of his mechanics. "I feel like I'm 80-85 percent mechanically sound. I still have a few hiccups trying to overthrow and that's something I'm still trying to get over.

"I just think about throwing the ball down over the zone. When my mechanics aren't right the ball gets elevated and gets hit, like the first pitch [on Friday] night. I'm still working on it but there's always things to work on."

So far the results have been quite good, sporting a 1.65 ERA for the Lansing Lugnuts and holding opposing Midwest League batters to just a .169 batting average. Throw in his eleven strikeouts and one walk, as well as some impressive stuff overall, Walden is happy with where his game is right now and so is his pitching coach.

"We're obviously a little careful with him due to the fact that he is coming back [from surgery]," Lansing pitching coach Vince Horsman said. "What I've seen from Marcus, his fastball has returned. It's probably a little bit better than when it was prior to his surgery and his slider is really good as opposed to that first year when I had him.

"It's just the maturation of a young man into manhood. Marcus to me right now has Major League quality stuff. It's just a matter of repeating his pitches and knowing what his strength is, and it's obviously pitching down in the strike zone and being able to work his fastball to both sides of the plate. He's been doing that here.

"The other night [last Friday night], his stuff would play at every level in the world. That being said, it's just a matter of giving Marcus the innings now, just building him up and giving him the innings."

Walden, who has been sitting comfortably in the 90-94 mph range with good late-life to his sinking two-seam fastball and showing a power slider that gets good cutting action too, believes he still has more room to improve his stuff going forward.

"They say it's supposed to come back 100 percent after 18 months," Walden said of his velocity. "I'm hoping I still have more in the tank in two or three months, but it feels good. It's about where it was before I had surgery."

While the fastball has been very effective, it has been his cutter/slider that has allowed him to pitch both up and down, and in and out of the strike zone this season.

"He calls it a cutter," Horsman said. "It's a slider 25 years ago. It is a slider. Call it whatever you want though, it's a quality pitch. It's an above average Major League pitch.

"He's running out there with two above average Major League pitches and I'll reiterate, it's about getting innings now. He missed so much time.

"He just needs to keep going out there and getting the two innings and building up his strength to get the innings that he has missed, and see what happens next year."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nMarcus Walden, a starter back when he first signed with the Blue Jays, made just four starts for the Dunedin Blue Jays [2-1, 8.64 ERA] back in 2009 before his elbow began to hurt.
\r\n
\r\n\"I actually got hurt in April of 2009 in my fourth start in high-A, but before that I was going through a lot of mechanical changes from the time that I signed, Walden said. \"I was pretty much just figuring out what to do mechanically and then my elbow blew out.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe tried to rehab the injury initially. In fact he spent the remainder of the 2009 season trying to do so before the inevitable happened - Tommy John surgery.
\r\n
\r\n\"I knew it was just a matter of time,\" he continued. \"I tried to rehab it and I thought I was going to come back later that year and I ended up having [a] nerve flip, which [meant a] quicker rehab and came back in August of '09.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thought I was going to be able to come back in spring of 2010 and it just wasn't there so I wound up having Tommy John surgery and sat out the whole year. I learned a lot though the two years I sat. I watched over 400 games of baseball and learned a lot about the game.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe focused his studying to fixing his mechanics, including a delivery he says that is now completely different from the one he employed with Fresno Community College in his amateur days.
\r\n
\r\n\"For the most part they're there now,\" he said of his mechanics. \"I feel like I'm 80-85 percent mechanically sound. I still have a few hiccups trying to overthrow and that's something I'm still trying to get over.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just think about throwing the ball down over the zone. When my mechanics aren't right the ball gets elevated and gets hit, like the first pitch [on Friday] night. I'm still working on it but there's always things to work on.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far the results have been quite good, sporting a 1.65 ERA for the Lansing Lugnuts and holding opposing Midwest League batters to just a .169 batting average. Throw in his eleven strikeouts and one walk, as well as some impressive stuff overall, Walden is happy with where his game is right now and so is his pitching coach.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're obviously a little careful with him due to the fact that he is coming back [from surgery],\" Lansing pitching coach Vince Horsman said. \"What I've seen from Marcus, his fastball has returned. It's probably a little bit better than when it was prior to his surgery and his slider is really good as opposed to that first year when I had him.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's just the maturation of a young man into manhood. Marcus to me right now has Major League quality stuff. It's just a matter of repeating his pitches and knowing what his strength is, and it's obviously pitching down in the strike zone and being able to work his fastball to both sides of the plate. He's been doing that here.
\r\n
\r\n\"The other night [last Friday night], his stuff would play at every level in the world. That being said, it's just a matter of giving Marcus the innings now, just building him up and giving him the innings.\"
\r\n
\r\nWalden, who has been sitting comfortably in the 90-94 mph range with good late-life to his sinking two-seam fastball and showing a power slider that gets good cutting action too, believes he still has more room to improve his stuff going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"They say it's supposed to come back 100 percent after 18 months,\" Walden said of his velocity. \"I'm hoping I still have more in the tank in two or three months, but it feels good. It's about where it was before I had surgery.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile the fastball has been very effective, it has been his cutter/slider that has allowed him to pitch both up and down, and in and out of the strike zone this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He calls it a cutter,\" Horsman said. \"It's a slider 25 years ago. It is a slider. Call it whatever you want though, it's a quality pitch. It's an above average Major League pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's running out there with two above average Major League pitches and I'll reiterate, it's about getting innings now. He missed so much time.
\r\n
\r\n\"He just needs to keep going out there and getting the two innings and building up his strength to get the innings that he has missed, and see what happens next year.\"
\r\n
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