"He's coming off an injury, so it's been nice to see him pitch and get a chance to compete," Lansing Manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a competitor, he's got a good arm. It's just a matter of him going out there and logging innings, getting comfortable and getting his arm strength up.
"He's steadily gotten better and better and that's what we look for. Look at the results, although they don't always fall into place, we've seen a guy go out there and improve and make adjustments."
"I still don't feel like I'm staying back long enough," Walden said. "I'm still working on throwing fastballs glove-side, extension-side for me. I think once I get that, it's easier to work both sides of the plate. I feel comfortable arm side, you know going in to righties.
"I feel comfortable with all my pitches, four-seam, changeup, and even my sinker. Now, going to the other side of the plate, it opens up the extension side of the plate. It opens up everything else and a lot of my other pitches if I can stay with my sinker on the back side and even my four-seam on the back side."
Walden is starting to get the normal feel for his pitches back after missing time, but still hasn't forgotten about the surgery, which is something he thinks about constantly.
"It has everything to do with [the time since my surgery]," he said. "I'm sixteen months and six days out of surgery, you know it's still a time clock in my head the day I had surgery. Everyday that I'm resting or pitching is another day that I get away from that surgery and get towards my goal."
It's Walden's goal to get through this season healthy with a good number of innings under his belt, setting a foundation for him to build from next year. Until then he can take solace in the fact that he's had no problems with his arm so far this season.
"My arm feels great, no pains," Walden said. "I feel stronger than I ever have, really, I believe so. The day I got injured, I was 91-94 mph and I'm still there, but I feel like I'm stronger longer. I feel like on my 70th or 75th pitch I'm still throwing 93 mph and I feel like I still have a zip on the ball."
Walden has had a lot of success since moving from the bullpen to the rotation and his manager believes that the added reps were the primary benefactor.
"Being in the rotation has allowed him to throw more than one inning," Redmond said. "He just needs to go out there and pitch multiple innings, and with that comes the arms strength and confidence.
"As a starter it allows you to make more adjustments because you know you're going to be out there longer, whereas with a reliever you might only have one inning and you might only throw seven pitches. As a starter it allows him to go out there and settle in and utilize all of his pitches."
Lansing pitching coach Vince Horsman believes that consistency with his delivery has been very important for Walden ever since moving into the rotation.
"I think he's pretty consistent with his delivery and as a pitcher if you are consistent with that delivery, then you're going to be able to execute your pitches," Horsman said. "He's done a really good job of being consistent and working on the areas where he needs to pay attention to in order to be consistent. Then, it's just a matter of repeating and repeating it. Now, when he does something wrong, he understands it right away and that's the maturation of a pitcher."
Another aspect of Walden's game that has helped him in his move to starting has been the addition of a cutter to his arsenal.
"One of the things I really started once I got onto flat grounds, I started working with a cutter," Walden said. "I was working with a guy named Bobby Ray, who pitched with us in the big leagues, and one day he just showed me to play catch with this cutter grip and ever since I've brought it into my arsenal I really like it. It's a big pitch to have the ball go the other way for mainly a sinker guy.
"It's just one more tool in the toolbox. The more tools you can go out there with, the better. It's a pitch I feel I can throw at anytime and that's the biggest part of pitching is keeping a hitter guessing. You can also maneuver the ball both left to right and right to left on both sides of the plate."
Horsman mentioned that he couldn't get his hands on Walden right away when he was working out of the bullpen, but went over what the two have been working since then.
"Once he got into the rotation, we were able to get with him two days a week and work on certain aspects of his delivery and his mental approach," Horsman said. "Commanding his fastball to both sides of the plate is important for him and I think he's done a nice job.
"We never had a chance to get to his changeup when he was in the bullpen pitching one or two innings at a time, where it was mostly fastball and slider. Now, we're getting his changeup going and he's getting the reps with his changeup as well. He's tightening up his overall package and so far everything is coming along really well."
"Pretty much everything I throw is pretty hard," Walden said. "The changeup is still a little too firm. Personally, I'd like to take two or three clicks off of it. Everything is pretty firm, my slider is too hard. I'd like to take two or three click of off it as well."
Walden seems to be on the same page with his pitching coach and says he's feeling stronger than ever.
"I've been throwing since June and the most I've taken is one day off and I still feel strong," Walden said. "I wouldn't say I'm getting stronger as the season goes on, but more mechanically sound. Less tension on the elbow, less stress on the shoulder, and it feels more free.
"I'm definitely more comfortable," he said. "It's about staying within myself for all 75 pitches and that's something that we work on in every bullpen I throw between starts. It's the same thing I have to take into all my starts."
"Anytime a guy comes off an injury it just takes time to get their stuff back and their confidence back," Redmond said. "We've eased him back into it and let him build his confidence up. He's done a good job, he should be proud of himself. To come back healthy, but also to comeback hungry and want to pitch and wanting to improve and he's definitely done that."
"This year, it's about getting his feel back for his pitches and getting the reps in," Horsman said. "Next year will be the year where I think he'll be 100 percent and there's no issues. Not that there are any issues now, just I think it'll be that year after where pitchers really feel comfortable and don't have that thing in the back of their head thinking, ‘Am I okay?' I don't think Marcus has that, but historically speaking that year after is when guys really feel like they're back and it's no holds barred."
Lansing Lugnuts starter Marcus Walden is on the comeback trail from Tommy John Surgery. A tough road to hoe for anyone, Walden talks about rebuilding his arm strength, throwing a cutter, and getting comfortable in the starting rotation.
Walden Getting His Feel Back
Marcus Walden, with a great comeback from TJ surgery so far, is getting the feel for his pitches.
Lansing Beat Writer
Walden has a 0.67 ERA in five starts
Jul 28, 2011