SARASOTA, FLA. — First base prospect Christian Walker said Wednesday morning that he was happy for the opportunity to audition in left field on Tuesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. It has been a few weeks since the subject was broached by manager Buck Showalter, and he was ready to take the idea from theory to reality.
"It's just been a conversation and a couple days of work," Walker said. "I'm happy they got me some game action. ... I feel that's a good way to learn, and if there is a time of year to learn it's now."
The Orioles want to expand Walker's skill set to improve the chances of getting his bat into the major league lineup on a team that has a large surplus of first basemen since Chris Davis re-signed and the club added Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
Walker was asked if he felt comfortable while the Toronto Blue Jays were peppering left field in the early innings of Tuesday's game. He certainly didn't embarrass himself, even registering an outfield assist when he threw out Troy Tulowitzki trying to go from first to third in the first inning.
"As comfortable as I could be," Walker said. 'I played a little bit in college. I've been shagging a lot the last couple days, so as far as fly balls and routes, I felt pretty good. [Wayne] Kirby has been working with me. I just tried not to do too much. Keep it simple. Hit the cutoff man. You know, make the plays I'm supposed to, and I plan on learning a lot."
If he thought there would be a lot of standing around out there, he found out differently in a hurry.
"Six of the first seven balls were hit to left field," he said, "so it was baptism by fire."