Toronto 2, Cincinnati 6 (in Memphis)

Saturday, April 02 2005 @ 01:41 AM EST

Contributed by: Magpie

The last week of spring training is always like this - everybody can't wait for it to end and get on with the real stuff. Pitchers and catchers reported six weeks ago. They are ready, ready, ready.

And so are we, by the way.

Your modern baseball player doesn't use spring training to get in shape for the season - to lose the excess weight picked up on the rubber chicken circuit. Modern players tend to use the off-season to get into even better shape. They need a few days to get their timing back, and not much else. They've been ready for weeks.

Pete Walker celebrated Making the Team by making a real mess of things last night in Memphis. He had a lot of help from Russ Adams, who is going to throw a few balls away this year. Expect it. Be ready. Don't be surprised. Hope that the score is already 10-1, for somebody, when it happens.

Yesterday notwithstanding, I have the irrational feeling that Pete Walker might put together a totally unexpected outstanding year. He's an older pitcher who has just experienced the baseball version of a miracle cure. I think of Catfish Hunter in the second half of 1978. Danny Cox in 1993. Both of those guys were finished. Kaput. Done. Washed up. But both of them were major contributors to World Series championships before the year was over. That was all they had left, as it happened, but their teams would have been in a whole mess of trouble without them.

And likewise, Walker may need to be pretty good. With Ted Lilly on the DL, Roy Halladay is the only guy in the rotation who has actually been in a major league rotation through an entire season. And Doc's only done it twice.

Walker thought he was losing his fastball because he was just getting old. It turns out he had two herniated disks in his neck. It will be interesting to see what happens.