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Thread: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

      
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    Default Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie
    Monday, May 09, 2011
    By Ron Cook , Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Told second baseman Neil Walker a little fib Sunday after the Pirates came back from the dead to beat the Houston Astros, 5-4.

    Told him I didn't necessarily think the home team was going to lose after the Astros scored three runs in the seventh inning and one in the eighth to take a 4-2 lead.

    OK, so it was a big lie.

    "I'm sure a lot of people who watched us last year in that situation were saying, 'This game is over,'" Walker said, grinning.

    Guilty as charged.

    Did you see Ryan Doumit's three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth coming?

    Sure, you did.

    The Pirates had been 1-11 when trailing after seven innings.

    "It was huge," Walker gushed. "It's a sign of how resilient this ball club really is. This is a new attitude team."

    You'll get no celebration here that the Pirates reached the .500 mark at 17-17 for the first time since they were 8-8 on April 18. It's way too early for that. What you will get, though, is a celebration of Walker's first 34 games of the season. He has been the team's best, most consistent player during a time when runs haven't always come easily.

    It is such a wonderful story, Walker being the hometown kid and all.

    "Unbelievable," Walker called it. "To do it in this town ... It's not something that crosses my mind a lot. I'm so focused on today and what I have to do to get ready for tomorrow.

    "But then I'll see my friends from [Pine-Richland] high school. They never let me forget how cool it is. It's good to be reminded of it."

    Make no mistake, Doumit was the offensive star Sunday. Talk about a guy with resiliency. The Pirates spent the winter trying to trade him and his $5.1 million salary after giving his catching job to Chris Snyder. Never once has he sulked. He just keeps contributing when he gets a chance. He also hit a big home run -- a grand slam -- in his previous start Wednesday in San Diego. No one deserved a curtain call from the PNC Park crowd more.

    But Walker was involved in everything the Pirates did offensively. He walked in the first inning when they scored a run and had a leadoff single and scored their run in the fourth. He also started the rally in the eighth with a one-out single.

    None of it was surprising. Walker has hit safely in 24 of his 34 starts and reached base in 28. Since going four consecutive games without a hit April 19-23, he has hit in 12 of 14 games, 20 for 54 (.370) with six multi-hit games.


    "I consider myself a gamer," Walker said. "Like I've talked about before, you're not going to see my skills off the chart in any category. But I consider myself a leader. I'm going to grind out at-bats and do anything I can to help the team win. We've got enough other skilled guys on this team that, if I just do my part, we're going to win a lot of games."

    Walker was talking about center fielder Andrew McCutchen, left fielder Jose Tabata and third baseman Pedro Alvarez. He said he doesn't have McCutchen's five tools, Tabata's complete package of skills or Alvarez's sheer power. But here's the thing: He has been the best of the bunch so far, although McCutchen finally is starting to hit. Tabata, after getting off to a .354 start in the first 13 games, is hitting just .133 and has been fighting a hamstring problem. Alvarez is hitting .212 with one home run and seven RBIs and missed his fourth consecutive game Sunday because of quadriceps injury. He could play tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park.

    It seems funny now that Walker had more doubters than any of the four at the start of the season. I know I'd be telling another fib if I said I didn't want to see more after he hit .296 with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs in 110 games after he was promoted from Class AAA in late May only because Aki Iwamura was such a failure at second base. The doubts weren't just about Walker's offense. Could he keep getting better at second, a new position for him?

    The answer is yes, of course.

    Walker has contributed as much with his glove as with his bat.

    "I'm starting to really get better at reading at-bats and reading swings," he said. "That's helped to put me in the right spots. It's almost become second nature. I don't think I could have said that even in spring training."

    Clearly, Walker has a good thing going.

    What a joy he is to watch.

    And, no, that's no lie.



    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11129...#ixzz1LtDsYeib
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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    He's a more talented Nate McLouth. It always helps getting a guy with his attitude. I honestly never thought much of him in our farm, I hated the pick of him, so he's exceeded any thoughts I had for him. A switch hitter who can hit .300 with decent power, from second base, is a pretty valuable guy.

    It goes to show you how the right approach can make a difference. Walker's a few years older than our highly talented prospects, like Cutch/Tabata/Alvarez, yet he's outperforming all of them and I think everyone would agree that they're all more talented than Neil Walker.

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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Quote Originally Posted by The Curtain View Post
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    He's a more talented Nate McLouth. It always helps getting a guy with his attitude. I honestly never thought much of him in our farm, I hated the pick of him, so he's exceeded any thoughts I had for him. A switch hitter who can hit .300 with decent power, from second base, is a pretty valuable guy.

    It goes to show you how the right approach can make a difference. Walker's a few years older than our highly talented prospects, like Cutch/Tabata/Alvarez, yet he's outperforming all of them and I think everyone would agree that they're all more talented than Neil Walker.
    Being more talented than Nate McLouth isn't saying much. One of the more overrated players to pass through the 'Burgh

    I think that Walker could perhaps be the more talent defensive player out of all of the ones you mentioned. While Cutch and Tabata are excellent outfielders, remember that Walker was drafted as a Catcher and then moved to 3B because Dave Littlefield felt that Ronny Paulino was the future Catcher . At 3B he excelled defensively and was being praised for his great defensive work there and then he was mvoed again last year to 2B where he currently is at and improving each day defensively there. That really takes a tremendous amount of Defensive ability to make that change defensively that many times that he has and not be a liability.

    Offensively he seems like a little of Cutch and Tabata. He has a good contact approach like Tabata with Cutch's type of power IMo. The amazing thing about Walker is that he overcame injuries AND 2 pretty bad years in the minors to be where he is now. Just about everyone had counted him completely out until he started hitting really well at AAA last season and even then, a lot of people, myself included was pretty unsure whether it was a fluke or not.

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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Walker reminds me of a slightly more all-round talented version of my favorite recent Pirate...Sanchez.
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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBen2112 View Post
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    Walker reminds me of a slightly more all-round talented version of my favorite recent Pirate...Sanchez.
    ok...not to break up a feel-good article about a hometown boy, but other than playing 2nd base, what do they have in common?

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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    If Walker cut down on his K's, with a few more on bases, he could be one of the best ever. As it stands, he is a fan favorite, for sure!
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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Quote Originally Posted by just_ridin View Post
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    ok...not to break up a feel-good article about a hometown boy, but other than playing 2nd base, what do they have in common?
    The way they approach the game. Freddy is a gamer...Freddy left it out on the field every single game. Their approaches are the same. Walker always ends up dirty after a game...always is running out grounders etc. That's what I see in common.
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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBen2112 View Post
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    The way they approach the game. Freddy is a gamer...Freddy left it out on the field every single game. Their approaches are the same. Walker always ends up dirty after a game...always is running out grounders etc. That's what I see in common.
    Fair enough...was looking more at individual aspects rather than attitude, and didn't see very much in common.

    Being away from the burgh I don't get the opportunity to sit in the stands anymore, so I miss out on many of the nuances of personalities...gotta find a way to get back there.

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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Walker is definitely my favorite player. The kid just "brings it" and lays it on the line every inning. If there is a player that deserves in the All Star Game for the Bucco's its Walker. I think he'll be a several time Gold Glover by the time his career is over.

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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    Quote Originally Posted by animus2001 View Post
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    Walker is definitely my favorite player. The kid just "brings it" and lays it on the line every inning. If there is a player that deserves in the All Star Game for the Bucco's its Walker. I think he'll be a several time Gold Glover by the time his career is over.
    I agree that Walker deserves to be the Pirates all-Star rep. He's been about the only consistent player on the pirates offense this season and he still is doing a really good job too. A sexier name like Andrew McCutchen will probably get our usual Lone spot and Cutch will likely improve his Batting average to decent standards for that recognition by then but Walker should be recognized for being consistent and above average as well this year.
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    Default Re: Cook: Walker a joy to watch, no lie

    I hope you're right about the gold glove. Right now he's nowhere near that level. However it is only the end of his first full season at 2B.

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