Mets starter Taijuan Walker not ruling out Sunday return

ATLANTA — Taijuan Walker still hasn’t eliminated the possibility he will pitch Sunday for the Mets, but said that will only happen if he’s feeling 100 percent physically.

The right-hander revealed Thursday that an MRI exam taken after he departed his last start with what the team termed as back spasms revealed a slight bulging disk that he will have to manage.

Walker played catch before the Mets’ 3-2 series-ending loss at Truist Park. The Mets will have to decide by Friday whether he can take his next turn in the rotation.

Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker
Getty Images

Tuesday I was in a lot of pain — probably the worst pain that I have felt,” Walker said, adding that he’s improved remarkably since then. “Where I am today I am a little shocked, but we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

During a normal cycle, Walker would have thrown a bullpen session Thursday. He said the earliest he might attempt that session now is Saturday.

“I don’t want to go out there at 90 percent and make it worse and now I’m on the IL and missing two or three or four weeks,” Walker said. “I think it’s important I just listen to my body and down the stretch and playoffs is where I am probably the most needed.”

The Mets play a doubleheader Saturday in Philadelphia in which they will send David Peterson and Trevor Williams to the mound.

If Walker isn’t ready, among the possibilities is recalling Jose Butto from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot start. Manager Buck Showalter said Tommy Hunter, who is scheduled to return from the injured list Sunday, could be considered in an opener’s role.

Catcher Tomas Nido, who tested positive for COVID after traveling with the team to Atlanta, felt good enough Wednesday to drive 15 hours back to New York. He is expected to join the team in Philadelphia at some point this weekend.

The Mets claimed infielder Yolmer Sanchez off waivers from the Red Sox and will add him to the major league roster Friday, according to Showalter. To clear 40-man roster space, catcher Patrick Mazeika was designated for assignment.

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