PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — "Great morning!" Taijuan Walker posted on Twitter before his first spring training outing on Tuesday.
Walker backed up his good vibes with an 11-pitch, two-strikeout first inning against the Cardinals at Clover Park.
The second inning, alas, was tougher, as St. Louis scored twice against Walker. His final line was deuces wild: two innings, two hits, two runs, two walks, two strikeouts.
Still, the 28-year-old righthander was thrilled to have just made what for him has been a rare occurrence — an actual spring training start.
"Honestly, this is, I think, my second spring training start in three years," Walker correctly noted after his 35-pitch outing in the Mets’ 5-3 victory. "It’s just nice to have a spring training again and get ready and ramp up for the season."
Walker, who signed a two-year, $20-million contract with a third-year player option on Feb. 20, had Tommy John surgery in April 2018. He wasn’t healthy for spring training in 2019 and had last year’s spring training cut short after one start when baseball shut down because of COVID-19.
Walker made 11 regular-season starts last season for Seattle and Toronto and went 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA. His career mark is 35-34, 3.84.
Walker, who wears No. 99 because Marcus Stroman has 0 and Mr. Met has 00, said he received a care package from Turk Wendell, the only other Mets player to wear 99. It included one of Wendell’s famous animal teeth necklaces, which good sport Walker promised to wear during his next outing even though it sounded like he had never heard of Wendell before signing with the Mets.
Shortstop prospect Ronny Mauricio’s go-ahead two-run single capped the Mets’ five-run seventh inning. Mauricio, 19, is 5-for-11 (.455).
Carrasco’s first start delayed
Carlos Carrasco threw a live batting practice session on Monday, which manager Luis Rojas said was supposed to have led to the scheduling of his first start.
But Rojas said the Mets have instead decided to continue having the veteran throw live BPs or simulated games and are not sure when he will take the mound in a game.
"We’ll keep ramping him up that way," Rojas said. "Everything’s fine."
Carrasco was not in camp on Tuesday, but was expected back Wednesday, Rojas said. Carrasco missed the first week-plus of spring training while receiving heart- and cancer-related tests, a precaution because of the leukemia he was treated for in 2019. The 33-year-old also received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before coming to camp.
"He should be ready for the start of the season," Rojas said. "That’s what we expect."
The Mets have no game on Wednesday. Rojas said he plans to have a "team fundamentals" session instead of an intrasquad game. The Mets, who made seven errors in their previous two games, were errorless on Tuesday.
The Mets reassigned 19 players from big-league camp, including top prospects Matt Allan, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio. The complete list:
Pitchers: RHP Matt Allan, RHP Oscar De La Cruz, RHP Ryley Gilliam, RHP J.T. Ginn, RHP Harol González, RHP Trevor Hildenberger, RHP Tylor Megill, RHP Stephen Nogosek, RHP Marcel Rentería, RHP Jared Robinson and LHP Tom Windle.
Position players: Catcher Francisco Álvarez, OF Crow-Armstrong, INF Baty, OF Drew Ferguson, INF Mauricio, catcher Nick Meyer, catcher Hayden Senger and INF Mark Vientos.
In addition, RHP Franklyn Kilome, RHP Sean Reid-Foley and LHP Thomas Szapucki have been optioned to the Triple-A roster. The Mets have 53 players in camp.