Taijuan Walker can't wait to make Mets debut in Thursday's home opener

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Colin Martin
·3 min read
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Taijuan Walker spring training
Taijuan Walker spring training

Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker will make his debut with the team on Thursday when they face off against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

He spoke to reporters ahead of the game on Wednesday to discuss how he's feeling before the start.

"It's exciting, my Mets debut and it gets to be the home opener, so it's pretty exciting, we're gonna have fans in the stands, it's definitely gonna be a special day," Walker said.

In 11.0 IP in spring training, Walker allowed six hits and four earned runs for a 3.27 ERA with seven strikeouts. He last pitched on March 29 against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing two runs on three hits in five innings of work.

He got to throw a live batting practice session on Saturday and a couple of bullpen sessions as well, while trying to stay ready for his first start of the regular season.

"I threw on Saturday, feel like four innings, probably 55 pitches," Walker said. "Just kind of heating up. And then a couple bullpens in between. My arm's been feeling really good right now, I like where my stuff is, I like how I felt in those four innings. Definitely ready to go.

"I'm just gonna go out there and go as long as I can until Luis [Rojas] takes the ball from me."

Walker joined the Mets in the offseason on a two year, $20 million deal after bouncing around the league with three teams since being a first round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft out of high school. He's already noticed how loyal Mets fans are about their team, and is excited to see them in the stands for the home opener.

"They're really passionate and they care a lot about their team," Walker said. "It's actually really good to see, we had a lot of Mets fans here in Philly. So it's been really nice. Yesterday was sick when we had that big game and scored a lot of runs and just to hear the Mets fans cheering us on, it was special. I really can't wait until tomorrow."

Former Mets pitcher Turk Wendell became the first Met to wear No. 99 during his time with the team from 1997 to 2001, and was known for wearing necklaces with animal teeth while on the mound. Since Walker will be the second Met to wear the jersey number, Wendell sent him a care package with a shark tooth necklace and some black licorice -- but don't expect Walker to wear it during a game.

"I haven't worn it yet," Walker said. "I'm kind of superstitious, so things have been going good, if something happens and I'm wearing the necklace, I don't want to blame the necklace. But I have it in my locker, I keep it in my locker. I have the licorice and the necklace in my locker, so it's gonna go with me everywhere I go."