Walker goes from day off to belting first homer
BALTIMORE -- Christian Walker was expecting to have his first Major League day off on Saturday. The Orioles were returning to a more normal lineup and Steve Pearce would play first base. Walker would get a chance to observe from the bench.
Midway through batting practice, Pearce began to feel some soreness in his right wrist. As a precaution, the Orioles pulled him from the lineup. Walker stepped in, and in his second at-bat, crushed the first home run of his big league career.
"It's exciting. It's really exciting," Walker said after the Orioles' 7-2 win over the Red Sox. "I wasn't originally in the lineup, but got an opportunity to get in there and maybe earn some more at-bats. And luckily it worked out in my favor."
Led by bullpen coach Dom Chiti, a crop of Orioles relief pitchers scurried out of their bullpen and to the center-field bleachers with a mission: Retrieve Walker's home run ball.
The South Carolina product, playing in his third Major League game since being called up Wednesday, had just rocketed the first home run of his career into the bleachers.
After the game, the ball sat in his locker. Walker said he plans to get it authenticated and write a message on it.
"It's a big confidence booster," Walker said. "It's easy to stay motivated. It's easy to continue working on the things I've been working on when I've been successful and things are working out in my favor."
Walker, who is the organization's No. 4 prospect, is hoping to make a late push onto the postseason roster. With Chris Davis suspended, the O's face a lack of players with experience at first base.
If Walker can prove to be a capable Major League bat, he'll have a case to steal one of the final roster spots.
"What a big moment for him," manager Buck Showalter said. "I kind of liked the way he's handled success so far."