Taijuan Walker is coming into Phillies spring training with the right attitude

After a rough end to 2023, Walker brings a new attitude to Phillies training camp.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets - Game One
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets - Game One / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Looks can be deceiving when you take a deeper dive into Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker's first season with the ballclub.

With a 15-6 record and 172 2/3 innings in 31 starts, we see a player who set new career milestones in wins, games started, and innings pitched. Leading the team in wins, Walker would normally be described as a free agent success story by most standards.

But 2023 will best be remembered with Walker sitting on the bench while the Phillies lost ground in the NLCS in agonizing fashion, never making an appearance during the postseason against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Somewhere along the way, manager Rob Thomson lost faith in the right-hander. Walker's frustration from the slight would bubble over.

Taking to X (the social media site formerly know as Twitter) after the Phillies were eliminated by the Diamondbacks, Walker unleashed this now infamous tweet.

But for Phillies fans worried that Walker would carry a lingering resentment over the situation into spring training, it seems Walker and Rob Thomson had a productive conversation in the days following the Phillies' playoff exit in October.

Taijuan Walker has come to spring training with a positive attitude

While Walker was quick to point the blame at Thomson and pitching coach Caleb Cottham after his infamous playoff benching, the 31-year-old is ready to turn the page going into his second year in a Phillies uniform. In fact, Walker recently spoke with The Philadelphia Inquirer's Alex Coffey and placed some of the blame on his own performance (subscription required) in 2023.

“Honestly, I was excited,” said Walker, per Coffey. “You know, it was the playoffs. Everyone wants to pitch in the playoffs. I was ready and then didn’t get my opportunity. But a lot of that is on me, too. I was inconsistent. My velocity wasn’t there. So, I thought I felt good going into the playoffs, but you never know what you’re going to get, and it’s do or die every game."

While Phillies fans are sure to debate for the rest of eternity whether Walker should have gotten a chance to pitch after the series started to slip away in Arizona, it's a positive that Walker understands that personal accountability in this baseball market is what Phillies fans expect.

So how does he feel about that infamous tweet nearly four months later?

“I see in the moment how dramatic [what happened on Twitter] was," added Walker, per Coffey. "But it was [overhyped]. I’m competitive and want to pitch, like anyone, and the next day I was like, ‘OK, I’m cool, I’m good.’ It was a little overblown. But obviously, it’s Twitter, so everyone sees. Everyone has emotions. Stuff happens.”

Walker had an inconsistent first season in Philadelphia. But as we saw with Nick Castellanos, sometimes it can take a while to adjust to new surroundings before a player thrives in this city. Coming into camp with a fresh perspective and renewed focus, hopefully Walker can slide into the number three slot in the rotation and put together a solid 2024 for the Phillies.