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Walker joins Rox camp as guest instructor

Former slugger played 10 of 17 big league seasons with Colorado

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former Rockies star Larry Walker joined the club Wednesday to serve as a guest instructor, and he is happy with the club's effort to reach out to its former stars.

Walker, who has received Hall of Fame consideration for a playing career spent largely with the Rockies, will be with the club for a week, give or take. Manager Walt Weiss invited him.

"Walt and I played together, and obviously we're friends, so it seemed like a nice fit," Walker said. "A lot of the guys were here. So here I am. This is the first time I've been asked to come here in Spring Training.

"I'm not a coach. I'm just an ex-player. So I'm not stepping on any toes while I'm here. I'll just watch the guys, and if the guys ask any questions, I'll give them what I have, to the best of my ability. The alumni is an important thing to all teams, and I'm glad they decided to do that here."

Walker, who said he might consider coaching down the road when his children are older, joined fellow ex-Rockies guest instructors Pedro Astacio and Ellis Burks, as well as the ex-Rockies on the staff -- Weiss, first-base coach Eric Young and special front-office assistant Vinny Castilla.

But no one has received the Hall of Fame consideration Walker has.

Walker received 58 of the 571 Hall of Fame votes this year, his fourth on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. It was a drop from previous totals but enough to keep him on the ballot. The skepticism of the statistics put up by Rockies at Coors Field, and a high number of games missed because of injury, work against him, despite a career full of accomplishments.

Walker is proud of his career and his time with the Rockies.

"I played in the big leagues for 17 years, and almost 10 of them were in a Rockies uniform," Walker said. "I feel like I'm getting penalized for that, and in my eyes, I played in the big leagues. The Colorado Rockies are a Major League team, and I'm content with that. Staying on the ballot all 15 years is a success. Obviously I'd rather be in. But I have no qualms about it.

"There are some things that I did that other players didn't do, and they're getting more votes than me. I played defense and won games with my arm and my legs. I brought a lot more to the table than some guys that got more votes than me."

Walker said he never used the performance-enhancing drugs that cast a shadow on the entire era in which he played.

"It's unfortunate, because there are some of us that didn't do anything and get dragged right into it," Walker said. "What can I do about it? I wish everyone back then would get caught. That would make me look so much better, because not all of us did it. Then people would get it, because not all of us did it.

"My size never changed, my physique never changed, my weight never changed. I was the same every year. A lot of guys, physically, you could see the difference."

Walker identifies with current Rockies stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who have come under criticism from fans and media in recent years because they've missed chunks of time with injuries. Like Tulowitzki and Gonzalez today, Walker was a big, physical player.

"Bob Gebhard [then the Rockies' general manager] said to me, 'Maybe you ought to tone your game down,'" Walker said. "How do you tone it down? Does that mean when I run after a ball and I think it's going to hit the fence, just pull up? Then it bounces short of the fence and I could have caught it. You play at one speed, and that speed sometimes is going to be detrimental to your health.

"Injuries happen. Some of them you can play through and some of them you can't."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.

Colorado Rockies, Larry Walker