Neil Walker Starts New Path as a New York Yankee

Walker discusses his role and what happened with the Pirates.

Jeff Hathhorn
March 15, 2018 - 12:57 pm
Neil Walker

93.7 the Fan

It just seems strange, even though he hasn’t been a Pirate since 2015, Neil Walker walking around during his first few days as a New York Yankee.

“For me it didn’t matter what was the best fit, rather it was the team that had the best chance of winning,” Walker said.  “I wanted to be a part of that environment and I’ve been a part of that environment for several years and once you get a taste of that and especially for a guy over 30, you don’t want to go the opposite direction.”

The 32-year-old Gibsonia native admitted it was frustrating waiting for an opportunity, saying he travelled a lot from his home in Pittsburgh to the free agent camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

There were reports, as Walker looked for an employer, that the Pirates were interested.

“There is no validity, we didn’t hear from them once during the off-season,” Walker said.  “I don’t know where that came from.”

Walker said he heard from a few of his old teammates during the off-season.

“Every time that I see the guys that I played with and the coaching staff, it brings back a lot of memories,” Walker said.  “Obviously we had some great times there, I still live in Pittsburgh.  It’s something that never leaves you.”

As for not being able to get over the hump and deep in the playoffs with the Bucs from 2013-15.

“You can go round-and-round about what could have happened or what should have happened, but at the end of the day we didn’t play well enough to reach our goals,” the former Pirates second baseman said.  “Were we a few pieces away from being a legitimate contender, absolutely.  That wasn’t the direction they felt it was necessary to go.  We felt internally that we had the pieces to get to where we needed to go but at the end of the day sometimes that extra starter or that extra big bat in the middle of the lineup can make a big difference.”

Walker expects to be a utility player with the Yankees, comparing himself to Josh Harrison’s role with the Pirates in 2013, where he didn’t play one position, but played five times a week.  Walker said he can play first, second and third and is willing to be a designated hitter.

“It’s a different feel here, a different environment,” Walker said of being a Yankee.  “Very business-like, very much get yourself ready and focus and go out and play hard.  All of those things are something I take pride in, so I hope that I fit in well and adjust quickly.”