Walker making case to be in bullpen

The Nationals’ bullpen appears to be set with Miguel Batista, Jason Bergmann, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard.

However, right-hander Tyler Walker is making a case that he should be part of the relief corps. In his last six outings, Walker has allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings, while striking out five batters. It helps that he is healthy and his pitching mechanics are in order.

Walker couldn’t say that early in the spring as he gave up 11 runs in his first two outings. Walker had lower back issues, but decided to gut it out. It proved to be a mistake, but Walker never used his injury as an excuse. He wanted to make early impression by overpowering hitters.  

“It was a combination of a tight back, bad mechanics and overthrowing. I tried to compensate for a tight lower back,” Walker said after Saturday’s game against the Braves. “I never refused the ball. That’s the type of player that I am. I’ll take the ball no matter what. You want to show the team you can pitch through a nagging injury. My back is feeling better and the mechanics are getting ironed out. I feel like I’m ready to go.”

This past offseason, Walker signed a Major League deal for $650,000. If he starts the season in the Minors, he will earn $120,000. Asked if Walker was safe to be on the 25-man roster because he has a track record of getting hitters out in the big leagues, manager Jim Riggleman said, “I wouldn’t say he is safe to be on it. You do the math and we could only carry 11 or 12 pitchers. So he’s not safe, but [he’s not out either].”

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