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Walker starting to turn corner

Walker starting to turn corner

Walker starting to turn corner
PHOENIX -- The Bucs' season-long hitting slump has been a team effort. GM Neal Huntington points out that on most nights the Pirates have a "two-man offense," and manager Clint Hurdle says they have "a handful of guys playing catchup, trying to get hot."

One at a time. Neil Walker appears to have caught up. His RBI single in the first inning Monday night came after back-to-back two-hit games against the Giants.

"Very encouraging," Hurdle said before the game. "Like everyone else, he's been working hard, three, four days of extra batting practice, and getting some results always brings more confidence. All of a sudden, he's squaring up balls he's getting to hit. I know each and every one of them can do it."

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Maybe Jose Tabata will be next. It can't be Pedro Alvarez, who sat out Monday night's start against left-hander Joe Saunders. But Tabata (4-for-30) isn't too far ahead of Alvarez (1-for-19).

"He's still looking to get comfortable at the plate," Hurdle said. "He's still working to find it. He's looking for a good stretch to get back that swagger.

"Why not swagger first? It's like waiting for a pocket full of money to feel rich. ... Why not just walk around like you're rich? Pretty soon, you'll start believing you are. You've got to believe you're a good hitter before you start getting the hits."

And what if the Pirates just don't climb out of this batting slump?

"We're gonna give up," Hurdle said with a sly glint in his eyes. "We're gonna shut it down. I'm going to call Bud [Commissioner Bud Selig] and say, 'Look, we're not ready. We need out.'"

In other words: Play the game, let the results happen.

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