Neil Walker wasn’t traded from the Mets to the Yankees last season but he did sign with the Bronx Bombers in the middle of March after an uneasy year in free agency for many players. Most of his time has come at first base, playing 29 games at first. Walker, who is batting .210 after Thursday night, has also played at second, third and been a designated hitter.
Walker came to the majors with the Pirates in 2009, and spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to the Mets for Jon Niese. He hit nine home runs in April 2016, and finished the season with 23 although injuries limited him to 113 games.
He hit 10 home runs in 73 games with the Mets last season before being traded to the Brewers, as Milwaukee made a push for the playoffs which fell short.
Walker remained unsigned through the start of spring training, but Brian Cashman signed the 32-year-old infielder to provide a little veteran presence for the Baby Bombers.
Walker took some time to speak with NY Sports Day before New York’s 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.
NYSD: You’ve been here awhile, three months, with everything, you feel like you are where you want to be?
NW: Yeah. Yeah. I always wanted to be here given how the off-season went and some possibilities, and I’m happy to be here and happy to contribute in whatever way I can.
NYSD: What surprised you most about being a Yankee so far?
NW: I don’t know if anything really surprised me. I think I’ve been most impressed with how the young guys have come and played here so well so far, especially Torres and Andujar, they’ve stepped right into the lineup and kind of taken advantage of their opportunity. And that’s something that’s not easy to do as a first time big league player, especially in a city like New York. They’ve been a huge part of our success, not just them, up and down the lineup, German on the pitching side of things, and there’s been contributions everywhere.
NYSD: You feel your role has changed a little bit because you were kind of brought in, veteran guy, help the young guys and it’s almost like in a way they don’t need help they’re so good?
NW: Well, I mean you’ve got 25 guys on the team, and we’re all kind of helping one another in any way that we can, and I remember being a young guy and taking any advice that the veteran guys could give you, and these guys are the same, they’re soaking it all up but they’re incredibly talented, too.
NYSD: Do you find yourself mentoring them a little bit?
NW: Not so much. If there’s times to say things, we all take it upon ourselves, all he veteran guys kind of take it upon themselves, even if it’s guys like Judge or Andujar or any of the younger guys, we try to help in whatever way we can but for the most part trial by fire is sometimes more helpful than anything else. But this is a really good team physically and from the talent spectrum, but also guys are really sponges and they want to work and they want to learn and that’s been really fun to be a part of.
NYSD: How nice is it being in New York again?
NW: I got used to it the last two years being with the Mets and it’s a place that I really enjoy playing. I’m not terribly far from home and it’s easy, I feel comfortable on this side of the country, and to be on a team as good as this is more important than anything else.
The Game: The Yankees continued to get production from rookie Gleyber Torres. He hit the go-ahead three-run homer in four-run fifth inning off Blake Snell, his 13th. All of that and the first career win for rookie Domingo German kept this Yankees bandwagon going in the Bronx with a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.