Phillies: Neil Walker expects to make Opening Day roster

Neil Walker #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Neil Walker #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Versatility is key

Neil Walker #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Walker’s spring stats may have not been overwhelmingly impressive, but he credits other pros to his game that stands him out from competitors. In particular, Walker credits his value as a switch-hitting bench player that can play multiple positions.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot,” he says, “but I still have to perform and play well to help this team win, but also to continue on their roster.

Walker has logged major league innings at first, second, and third base, as well as the corner outfield positions. Earlier this year in big-league camp, the Phillies used Walker in four games at first base, three games at second base, two games as the designated hitter, and one game each at third base and left field.

The universal designated hitter being implemented only helps Walker’s chances.

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“There will be some guys that pop in and out at the DH spot, but that also opens up a spot in the field,” Walker says. “There’s no telling how, with the DH style of play, how they’re going to configure the offense.”

Phillies manager Joe Girardi has hinted that several different players will be used as the designated hitter spanning the 60-game sprint, such as Jay Bruce, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper, among others. The Phillies could give McCutchen a breather and bat him in the position as well, as he is coming off of recovery from ACL surgery.

Walker would have to be added to the 40-man roster if he makes the team, as he entered the first camp earlier in the year as a non-roster invitee.

After playing for the Pirates (2009-15), and prior to joining the Phillies this past offseason, the 2014 National League Silver Slugger Award winner (second base) also played for the New York Mets (2016-17), Milwaukee Brewers (2017), New York Yankees (2018) and Miami Marlins (2019).