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Neil Walker Catches in Spring Training

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It may not mean anything, but Neil Walker strapped on catching gear today.

Another position change is not in the works, though, for the former first-round draft pick.

"Just exploring my options," Walker told me a few minutes ago by phone from Bradenton, Fla. "I’m trying to add value to myself and knock some of the rust off a little bit. I figured if there’s going to be a time to do it, it’d be now"...

Walker asked management if he could fill in at catcher if the team needed help during spring training. The last pitcher he caught in a game was Shane Youman in the Arizona Fall League in 2006. Walker figures it had been four or five years since he caught Duke...

By doing some work now behind the plate, Walker could help himself if (or, more likely, when) he moves on to another organization.

Anything can happen, but between Ryan Doumit, Jason Jaramillo and Tony Sanchez, Walker is pretty blocked at catcher. That certainly could change if Doumit gets hurt, if he so often does--in that case, Walker could make an excellent case for himself as a part-time catcher who can also fill in at third. Picking up the catching gear is also a good move for him if, as the article suggests, he ends somewhere else. The Pirates don't have much need for a Brandon Inge-type player right now, but another team might. For Walker, though, the surest path to a sustained big league career is hitting better. All the versatility in the world will be worth less to him than some on-base ability.