Greg Walker decided to bring his nine-year tenure as White Sox hitting coach to a close about a month ago, he said Wednesday.
Walker, tired and close to burnout stage, worked hard to the very end, rounding up Sox hitters for pregame work before their final game of the season Wednesday afternoon against the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Obviously, I'm gone,'' Walker told beat writers in former manager Ozzie Guillen's office before the game. "The decision was made earlier in the year. A lot of different things came into the decision process. I informed Jerry a month ago that my time was over. We talked about it, and it's just the right thing to do. It's time to go, so it's somebody else's turn. I always said there would be a day when I wouldn't be the hitting coach here. And that day is here."
Walker, who played on the Sox' 1983 division championship team, has not been on good terms with general manager Ken Williams the past few seasons and almost certainly would not have received a new contract. He is able to walk away on his own terms, citing personal and family matters. He remains close to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
"I have no plans whatsoever,'' he said. "I have a dinner set up with Jerry sometime in the near future and we'll discuss some things. I don't know. I've pent a lot of my life learning this craft, which is very tough to do. So we'll see.''
Walker, who most recently clashed with Williams over the GM's public comments about second baseman Gordon Beckham's swing, said relinquishing his job "didnt have anything to do with the recent events. I was not going to be the hitting coach. That decision was already made.''
Reflecting on his time as a coach that included the 2005 World Series championship, Walker was emotional.
"Yeah, that was pretty cool wasn't it? If you told me I was going to be a hitting coach in a major market, arguably one of the toughest things to coach in sports and have some success ... we had some good times and tough times.''
Paul Konerko credits Walker with rebuilding his swing and said that Walker will always "be my guy.''
"It's tough to say in one interview what he's meant,'' Konerko said. "I trust him with every inch of my swing.''
"I just know when he showed up here, what I thought about hitting and where I was at as a hitter, it's not even close to what I am now as far as I go about it and how I work and what I'm able to do.He's gotten me to places as a hitter and a player that I would have never gotten to without him. I think that's the best thing I can say."
This season, $56 million slugger Adam Dunn, a prized free-agent, had one of the worst seasons ever by a major leaguer. Adam Rios and Beckham also struggled. The bottom line for the Sox is that their pitching was good enough to be a postseason team but their offense wasn't.
"Yeah, it's been a tough few years on all of us,'' Walker said. "Nobody involved in this organization involved the last three years has not been beat up. You have to go through tough times to make things happen. This organization is as relevant as it's ever been. When I first got here, I saw nothing but Cubs hats on Michigan Avenue. Now you walk down Michigan ave seeing Sox hats. My part in that, I am very proud of it.''