OAKLAND - It's that time of year.
Where some believed truths are nothing more than rumors, and some rumors have a whole lot of truth to them.
It's a climate Greg Walker has become very familiar with over the past few seasons.
So it came as no surprise to the White Sox hitting coach that there was talk brewing that he would step down after the season, despite having a year left on his current contract.
"No, every year I evaluate it at the end of the year,'' Walker responded on Monday, when asked flat-out if he was calling it quits. "I've got a contract here next year, every year I sit down with ... first of all [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] has expressed that he wants me to come back, so that's an option. I always sit down with [board chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and see if he's happy with the way things are going. But no, I haven't made any decisions one way or the other at all. There are so many rumors floating around right now.''
What Walker would admit to was that yes, he was physically and mentally exhausted from this season, especially the beating he took in the court of fan opinion at the start of the season.
"It takes so much out of me physically and mentally these years, from the first day of spring training, pretty much like it does every guy in this room,'' Walker explained. "That's why you don't make decisions this time of year. Everyone is frustrated because we didn't finish it off this year. All I know is I have a contract next year and Ozzie wants me back. You have to sit down with your family and talk, there are a lot of things that go into it.''
Since taking over the position in May of 2003, Walker-coached offenses have put up historic franchise numbers, leading the major leagues in homers in both 2006 and 2008.
When the team started slowly out of the gate in April and May, he was once again under scrutiny, despite his resume.
Not that Walker was surprised.
"My skin has gotten very thick in that regard, but at times you wish that you would have built up a little more good will here because we have done some pretty neat things here over the years,'' Walker said. "And I think at times, I don't know if it's to sell tickets or what, but I think we've told people that at times we were a little more talented than what we were on a given year or maybe we just misjudged it. I know last year, you looked up at a given time and we had Chris Getz and Josh Fields hitting one-two a month into the season, and Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise [in the lineup]. Nothing against those guys, but they just weren't ready to handle those roles. ... I don't know if we were that good a team last year.
"This year, I felt like we were. For about three months we were as good as it got. Most smart people could look at the numbers and see what happened, but the main thing that happened was the Minnesota Twins are really good and they kicked our rear ends.''
There are other factors involved in Walker's decision, as well.
He isn't the only rumor of the day as far as the Sox. It's no secret that general manager Ken Williams and Guillen have as wide a disconnect as the two have had in their seven-year relationship as GM and manager, and what if Guillen is elsewhere after the season?
"I'll use commonsense,'' Walker said of that scenario. "Like I said, I take one year at a time. I've always said I don't want to be here if they don't want me here and they've always expressed that they do want me here. Jerry just insists every year that I come back, and he might change his mind. I don't think so. Every year it's a decision to be made and I don't make it during the season.
"If it's out there otherwise, it's not true. But I haven't told them that I was coming back, either. The year after we won the World Series I didn't know if I was coming back, so it's a year-to-year job.''
Hitting coach Greg Walker responds to rumor that he is stepping down
OAKLAND - It's that time of year.
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