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Walker breaks out first-base mitt, 'just in case'

Mets 2B hasn't played position since '10 in Minors, realizes need for depth
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Neil Walker spent several minutes Friday morning deciding between a pair of first baseman's mitts, the newest additions to his locker. Because the Mets' everyday second baseman was not in the starting lineup, he spent time taking ground balls at first alongside Lucas Duda -- "just in case," in Walker's words.

"I might be way down the list of guys," he said of the Mets' first-base depth chart. "But I just want to make sure that I'm preparing if something does happen."

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Neil Walker spent several minutes Friday morning deciding between a pair of first baseman's mitts, the newest additions to his locker. Because the Mets' everyday second baseman was not in the starting lineup, he spent time taking ground balls at first alongside Lucas Duda -- "just in case," in Walker's words.

"I might be way down the list of guys," he said of the Mets' first-base depth chart. "But I just want to make sure that I'm preparing if something does happen."

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That is a lesson the Mets learned last summer, when Duda's back injury forced them to acquire an everyday first baseman, James Loney. This spring, the Mets have exposed both Walker and Jay Bruce to first, though neither has played the position in a game.

The Mets have also tried out infielders such as Matt Reynolds and T.J. Rivera in the outfield, where even Jose Reyes has shagged fly balls.

"I think guys understand the value of depth," Walker said. "Guys understand that, especially last year, things can happen -- guys can get dinged up and … it doesn't hurt, especially in Spring Training, to make sure that you just take a couple ground balls here, take some fly balls there. And everybody's on board with that."

Though Walker's last extended exposure to first base came as a Minor Leaguer in 2010, he feels even light spring work at the position will help him if he needs to play it. After Duda and backup Wilmer Flores, the Mets boast little internal depth at first.

"I just need to get my feet back underneath me," Walker said. "If I were to have to go over there, it would just take a couple days to get back in the flow of things."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

New York Mets, Neil Walker