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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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January 6, 2009 3:16 PM

2009 starts...slowly

Posted by Geoff Baker

walker.jpg

Glad to be back and am ready to start a brand new year of covering the Mariners. Many thanks to all of you who wrote in and emailed me privately about my knee surgery. I'm happy to report that things are progressing well.

On to the Mariners, they've made their first move of 2009 and it's...well...hardly earth-shaking. On second thought, maybe it's enough to get the ground shaking a bit. Especially when he takes a few steps. Right-handed relief pitcher Tyler Walker, 32, of the Giants has just been signed by the club. If you're building a football team, he'd be a good place to start, as he's listed at 6-foot-3, 272 pounds. On the baseball side, he went 5-8 with a 4.56 ERA in 65 games last season before being taken off the major league roster and outrighted to the minors -- clearing the way to his becoming a free-agent.

The one thing that jumps out about him are the 49 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. Not too shabby and possibly one of those undervalued pieces that can be picked up cheap. His ERA is nothing special, particularly coming from the NL. But ERA is not the best stat to use when looking at a reliever. Looking at his strikeout totals, he can get people out on his own. Had Tommy John surgery in 2006.

His strikouts-to-walks ratio was 49:21 and he's been a closer before, with the Devil Rays before hurting his arm. Throwing for that bullpen, prior to last year of course, was enough to get plenty of arms hurting. So, there's some possible versatility to be had from this guy.

"Tyler is a pitcher we had identified early on as a guy who could help us in the bullpen,'' Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik just said in a release put out by the team. "He has the ability to pitch in any role: middle relief, set-up and he has experience as a closer."

Other than that, we'll have to see how he looks on the mound this spring.

Photo Credit: Bob Levy/Getty Images

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