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Neil Walker makes exhibition debut for Yankees at first base

Yankees second baseman Neil Walker during the first

Yankees second baseman Neil Walker during the first inning against the Astros at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports / Kim Klement

TAMPA, Fla. — Neil Walker went 0-for-1 and was hit by a pitch in his spring training debut as a Yankee on Friday night at Steinbrenner Field.

Walker, who played four innings at first base against the Astros and didn’t have a ground ball hit his way, hit a fly ball to center in the second and was hit by a pitch in the shirt near his midsection in the fourth. Both at-bats came against righthander Lance McCullers Jr.

“I felt like I was in a pretty good place,” said Walker, who signed a one-year, $4-million contract on Monday after languishing on the free-agent market all offseason. “I’m very happy with where I am right now.”

Walker has played 1,008 games at second, 19 at third and 17 at first in his career. The Yankees seem determined to use Tyler Wade as their primary second baseman and turn Walker into a utilityman, although they have not formalized that decision.

“The right side of the infield feels pretty comfortable to me, so it was good to get some action,” said Walker, who will play second in his next appearance on Sunday.

Jordan Montgomery allowed a pair of solo home runs in four innings in the Yankees’ 2-0 loss. J.D. Davis homered in the first and Tyler White went deep in the fourth. The defending World Series champion Astros didn’t bring any regular position players across the state from West Palm Beach.

Mr. October returns

Reggie Jackson, who underwent right knee surgery on Tuesday after a fall on Monday, was spotted walking around the Yankees’ spring training home on Friday afternoon. Jackson, 71, was using a walker and had a brace visible under his jeans.

Asked how he was feeling, the Hall of Famer said: “Good. How are you?”

Jackson, a Yankees special adviser, is a frequent presence at Steinbrenner Field and Yankee Stadium.

Extra bases

Aaron Judge will make his first appearance in leftfield in a minor-league game on Saturday. Giancarlo Stanton started in left on Friday . . . Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) is improving, but manager Aaron Boone continues to say he might be running out of time to be ready for Opening Day . . . Boone said he is close to naming an Opening Day starter. Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka are the leading candidates . . . The Yankees acquired minor-league righthander Luis Gil, 19, from the Twins for minor-league outfielder Jake Cave.


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