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Walker thriving in late innings for D-backs

Arizona relying on righty Andriese in key situations
@SteveGilbertMLB
April 19, 2019

CHICAGO -- If the D-backs have needed a big hit late in a game this year, Christian Walker has been the guy they can count on. Walker is hitting .608 (14-for-23) in the seventh inning or later, with all six of his homers and all 11 of his RBIs coming

CHICAGO -- If the D-backs have needed a big hit late in a game this year, Christian Walker has been the guy they can count on.

Walker is hitting .608 (14-for-23) in the seventh inning or later, with all six of his homers and all 11 of his RBIs coming in those situations. He knocked a seventh-inning single on Friday in the D-backs' 5-1 loss to the Cubs.

Why does he think that’s been the case?

“I don’t know what I attribute [it] to,” Walker said. “What it means to me is I need to do a better job with hitting starters. It’s just a funny thing. Baseball is a funny game like that. It seems like things always come in bunches and tendencies and things like that. I think it’s just a funny thing right now.”

Walker does quite a bit of pregame study on starting pitchers, so that’s not something that needs changing.

“And I feel the same throughout all my at-bats -- late in the game, early in the game,” Walker said. “Just for whatever reason right now, the outs are coming early and the hits are coming later. If it switches, it switches. As long as the hits are there somewhere, to be honest, I’ll take them whenever they want to come.”

Success late

Reliever Matt Andriese pitched back-to-back days for the first time this year in the final pair of games against the Braves, and he came through both times in big situations.

“I think the only way you can get used to those situations is being put in them,” Andriese said.

Andriese was acquired by the D-backs from the Rays last July in an effort to beef up the bullpen for the club’s postseason run.

In 14 games, which included one start, Andriese was 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA. This spring, he was a long shot to make the team out of camp, but he impressed the staff so much that he ended up claiming a spot.

“I think it’s just a comfort thing,” Andriese said. “You get to know your teammates, your coaches. You come in and try to do too much, and it usually doesn’t work out too well. You're traded to a contender at the Trade Deadline, and you put a little bit too much pressure on yourself.”

It’s all fun and games until someone ...

D-backs bullpen coach Mike Fetters had the walking boot taken off his foot Friday. Fetters sprained his ankle while playing basketball with fellow coaches and support staff on Tuesday at Georgia Tech University.

“I feel partly responsible for that, because I was the foot that he tripped on,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I was trying to make a basketball play, and the big fella got in my way. Or I got in the big fella's way. I actually feel terrible about that.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.