ATLANTA — So, is anyone missing Daniel Murphy these days?
Even though Murphy is off to a sizzling start with Washington — his .397 average leads the majors — the Mets are quite happy with the surprising power show they’ve been getting from his replacement, Neil Walker.
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Murphy hit seven home runs in last year’s postseason. Walker has hit seven in his first 17 games as a Met. That’s 14 home runs from Mets second basemen in less than two months of baseball.
“I’ve never considered myself a home-run guy,” said Walker, whose career high is 23 in 2014, before going 1-for-3 with an intentional walk Sunday in the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Braves. “I’ve considered myself somebody that uses the big part of the field and just tries to get barrels on the ball. So sometimes you get on streaks similar to this, where I like to call it you’re getting your swing off, getting your barrel through the zone and not worrying where it ends up.”
Where it has ended up seven times this month and six times in the last nine games is over the fence.
“It’s been a good April so far,” Walker said.
Not just for the Mets, but also for Walker’s beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, who ousted the Rangers in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday afternoon.
“They put an end to that series, and that’s a sign of a good team,” Walker said. “When you’ve got a team down, you’ve kind of got to take advantage of that. Hopefully, the layoff isn’t too long.”
The Pittsburgh native and former Pirate was able to watch the final game on a clubhouse TV alongside Matt Harvey, the biggest Rangers fan in a Mets clubhouse filled with them.
“We had a friendly wager,” Walker said. “There’s a hockey pool we’ve got in here, too. It’s been fun. There’s a lot of Rangers fans in the home clubhouse at our place. I don’t want to tick anybody off. I’m still trying to fit in.”
So far, so good. Hitting a bushel of homers helps, but Walker also has an easygoing personality that seems to mesh with the Mets’ mix.
“I think I’ve always been somebody that’s been able to fit in,” Walker said. “I grew up in a household of three siblings. I was the youngest of four. I kind of had to fight my way, I guess. But more than anything I think this organization and the players that were here have helped make it easy. This is a very positive, upbeat environment. I think all those things rolled into one have made this transition about as easy as it can be for me.”