Reliever Jordan Walden made just his second appearance in Spring Training on Wednesday when he threw a pain-free inning in the Atlanta Braves' 18-9 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hadn't pitched in a game since Feb. 23 due to a bulging disc in his back.
Walden, who received an epidural injection two weeks ago, looked the part of a pitcher with some rust in his arm as his stat line included giving up two walks, a wild pitch and an infield hit that may have been a gift from the umpire that led to a run. Regardless, Walden feels positive about the progress he has made recently.
"I was a little rusty, but I think everything will be fine," Walden said on braves.com. "Ever since I got that epidural shot, I haven't even felt it. I'm feeling good now. I've just got to get my command and everything with pitching back on track."
Walden also showed how his arm strength isn't quite up to snuff. His fastball over his career has averaged around 96 mph, but it hovered in the 92-94 range Wednesday.
"I saw a guy if I hadn't known he hadn't pitched all spring, I wouldn't have even thought about it," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez hasn't dashed Walden's hopes of being on the Opening Day roster, despite the fact that he essentially has two weeks to prepare. If he isn't ready, Anthony Varvaro, who is out of options, would take the spot while Walden takes more time.
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