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Pirates' Walker hopes for impact addition in offseason

| Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, 5:50 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is helped from the field after dislocating his finger Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, at PNC Park.

Second baseman Neil Walker doesn't expect the Pirates to abandon their build-from-within approach when filling holes in the roster. But, Walker also hopes the club will add some established impact players this offseason.

“I think there needs be a good balance,” Walker said Friday. “We've brought in guys like A.J. (Burnett) and Wandy (Rodriguez). Adding a couple more pieces like that could really benefit us. It's looking like we're going to need to add a couple starting pitchers. Hopefully, we can bring in another guy like A.J. — someone who can help us out immediately.”

Right-hander Kevin Correia will leave as a free agent. Righty Jeff Karstens, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, is not expected to be tendered a contract. Management could fill those two spots in the starting rotation with rookies Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke. The Pirates also are seeking a starting catcher and bullpen help.

A young, inexpensive lineup doesn't necessarily doom a team to failure. The St. Louis Cardinals put six homegrown, pre-arbitration players on the field Thursday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals crushed the San Francisco Giants, 8-3, to take a 3-1 series lead.

However, Walker pointed out the rest of the Cardinals' roster — including Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse — is neither green nor cheap.

“I think experience is probably the biggest thing,” Walker said. “When you've got an organization that's as successful as the Cardinals and you have guys like Wainwright, Carpenter and Beltran ... when you get into these (playoff) situations, the younger guys are looking at the older guys and seeing how they react to things. It's a testament to the veteran leadership more than the performance of the younger guys.”

Notes: Walker continues to recover from the herniated disc that caused him to be shut down with a month left in the season. He will not need surgery, but has not yet increased his workouts to full speed. “By the middle of November, I should be back to 100 percent, which is kind of right on schedule,” he said. “I think I'll probably be a little more cautious, with how much I do at the start of spring training. But I don't think anything is going to hold me back overall.” ... Walker will sign autographs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the new Dick's Sporting Goods store in Cranberry. ... Manager Clint Hurdle will be a guest DJ at 2 p.m. Tuesday on WYEP-FM (91.3).

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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