Aaron Boone excited by the Yankees' addition of Neil Walker
TAMPA -- Prior to Monday's game against the Twins, Yankees manager Aaron Boone was mum on the subject of Neil Walker, because the team had not yet made Walker's acquisition official.
Suffice to say, though, that after the game, Boone was quite happy with the newest Yankee.
"We had a really good player fall into our lap, essentially. We got better today, I feel like," Boone said Monday night. "He's a potent bat, especially from the left side, but also gives us the versatility we like. He adds to our versatility and matchup capabilities."
General manager Brian Cashman said following Walker's signing that the infielder wasn't guaranteed anything, including a starting job, but would "have the opportunity to run with any opening we have."
So what's the manager's take on how Walker will be utilized?
"He can play second and first, and we'll even give him some looks at third to have that hopefully be an option on occasion," Boone said. "His track record speaks for itself, but I wouldn't say he's coming in here (as the starting second baseman). You're going to see him in some games there, but we feel like we have other good options as well."
Walker will have only two weeks in Yankees camp before the team heads north, but because he spent time in the free agent camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton earlier this spring, Boone believes that Walker can "hit the ground running pretty well," and could make an appearance in a Grapefruit League game as early as Thursday.
"We think he's ahead of the game physically; he's been getting quite a lot of work, and he told me he felt like he was in a pretty good place as far as being up to speed on things," Boone said. "He'll get a full day's work (Tuesday) and maybe stand in on some things, and maybe get some Minor League at-bats Wednesday -- so I could see him in a game Thursday or Friday. We think that's where he is physically."
And as for Opening Day?
"Theoretically yes, he could be ready, but even if everything goes well, that's not necessarily a given," Boone said. "Physically speaking, though, I would expect him to be ready on Opening Day, yes."