Mariners slot Walker fourth, Happ fifth in rotation

Mariners slot Walker fourth, Happ fifth in rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Taijuan Walker finished up an outstanding spring with two innings of work in the Mariners' 6-3 victory over the Rockies on Saturday and will open the regular season as Seattle's No. 4 starter, manager Lloyd McClendon said after the game.

The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 0.67 ERA with just two runs and 10 hits allowed in 27 innings over seven starts, and he will be bumped ahead of veteran J.A. Happ in the rotation that opens the season.

McClendon's five starters in order will be Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Walker and Happ. The second-year skipper had previously announced the first three, who will face the Angels in the season-opening series that starts with Opening Day on Monday at Safeco Field.

Walker will pitch the season's first road game Friday in Oakland, followed by Happ on Saturday and Hernandez on Sunday.

"We're just trying to go left-right, left-right, as much as we can," McClendon said.

Walker's scoreless outing

Walker, regarded as one of baseball's top young right-handers, has pitched parts of the past two seasons with Seattle and is 3-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 appearances, including eight starts. But this will be the first time he opens the season with the Mariners.

"I'm excited," Walker said. "I'm sure on Monday when we run out on the red carpet and all the fans are cheering and we've got King's Court going, it'll be a lot different. I've been dreaming about this for a long time. To get this opportunity is awesome."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.