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Walker pleased with powerful start

PITTSBURGH -- Second baseman Neil Walker is off to a solid start for the Pirates, entering play on Thursday night batting .259 with five home runs and nine RBIs. He didn't hit his fifth home run last season until June.

"I'm getting my swing off," Walker stated. "I hit some balls hard this past road trip."

The switch-hitting Walker, who hit .225 without a home run right-handed last season, worked on his swing during the offseason.

It is only a small sample size -- eight at-bats against left-handed pitchers with a .375 batting average, one home run and two RBIs -- but Walker is encouraged.

"It's not much different than anything I've been doing in the past," Walker said. "I'm just working on getting my swing off and getting my foot down and letting the bat work. That's really what I worked on this past offseason, was focusing on getting my swing off and getting myself in a ready position, and I had a good amount of at-bats in Spring Training. Unfortunately, we don't have a ton of left-handers in our division, but that's beside the point. It's about taking good swings at good pitches."

Walker has gone 5-for-12 with three home runs in his last three games and his five homers currently leads all Major League second basemen.

George Von Benko is a contributor to
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