Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker showed up for work early again this year. The Pittsburgh Kid was ripping baseballs from the right side in the batting cage this morning at Pirates City.
The news that hasn’t received a great deal of attention is that the Pirates avoided arbitration with all of the players this offseason. Of course this included third baseman Pedro Alvarez, platoon candidate first baseman Gaby Sanchez, set-up man Mark Melancon and swing man Vin Mazzaro. The team also signed Travis Snider who looks to work toward getting a job in right field this season.
Walker got the biggest raise of any Pirates player with an increase of $3.3 million thanks to his second year of arbitration.
The biggest challenge for Walker is remaining healthy as the Pirates offense tries to find an identity on the heels of their first winning season in twenty years. One has to consider Walker a big-time bounce back candidate after a tough season in 2013 that saw his numbers drop as he battled multiple injuries.
The Bucco second baseman let me know that he is trying to approach his offseason a bit slower so that he can feel strong as October approaches. You might recall that Walker worked out early with Andrew McCutchen last season.
Seeing Walker at Bradenton shows me he is more than committed to his craft, already working hard to earn his new raise. A healthy Walker could spark the Bucs offense and that is just what Pirates fans and skipper Clint Hurdle is looking for in 2014.
It also wouldn’t hurt for the Pittsburgh Kid to get some sun on those pasty white arms and legs.
Thanks to Jamie Workman for the pics.
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates