Walden impresses in Major League debut

Walden impresses in Major League debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jordan Walden was beaming as he took a seat in the visitors' clubhouse at Target Field several hours before the Angels would wrap up their weekend series with the Twins.

"I'm real excited," Walden said before the Angels lost, 4-0, on Sunday. "You dream about this, being in the big leagues. I know some of the guys from being in big league camp two years in a row. [Michael] Kohn is one of my friends. We started in Double-A [Arkansas] this year. It's been a pretty amazing year after what I went through last year."

Walden faced two potential Hall of Famers in his Major League debut in the eighth inning.

"I was so nervous," Walden said. "I was pitching on adrenaline."

He walked Mauer, hitting 99 mph four times on the radar gun, and struck out Cuddyer and Jim Thome on three pitches each. Walden left runners at the corners by retiring Delmon Young on a groundout.

"It dawned on me when I saw Joe Mauer," Walden said. "I had to tell myself to take some deep breaths. I finally settled down."

Every fastball he threw hit 98 or 99, not that he knew.

"I was just letting it go," Walden said. "It felt real good to get a clean [scoreless] inning in."

The man who counts most was duly impressed.

"I thought he handled himself very well," Angels manager Scioscia said. "He definitely made pitches. First and third, he struck out Cuddyer and Thome on six pitches. We're excited, where he can help us now. Any time you get a chance to develop a power arm, that's very important."

Walden, 22, was summoned from Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday when Maicer Izturis (inflammation in the right shoulder region) was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the third time this season.

Walden is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and throws premium heat, the kind Scioscia favors. The Forth Worth, Texas, native goes right into the bullpen mix with Kohn and Co.

"It makes sense," Scioscia said of calling up Walden. "He's a guy who's definitely going to be in our plans."

Walden spent a week and a half at Salt Lake, where he made six appearances with a 4.05 ERA, giving up eight hits and two walks while striking out three hitters in 6 2/3 innings.

The Angels' 12th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Grayson (Texas) Community College, Walden was 1-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 38 games at Arkansas, throwing 43 1/3 innings with 38 strikeouts.

"I throw a four-seamer," Walden said. "Sometimes it sinks, sometimes it doesn't."

It didn't do much of anything in 2009 when he was limited to 13 games in 2009 at Arkansas as he dealt with forearm and elbow ailments.

"I'm healthy, that's the main thing," Walden said. "Last year wasn't good in any way. This has been a much better season."