VIERA, Fla. -- Former Nationals manager Davey Johnson encouraged shortstop prospect Zach Walters to be more of a power hitter, and Walters seemed to embrace that last season. He thumped 29 home runs and slugged .517 at Triple-A Syracuse.
The downside was that Walters struck out 134 times in 134 games, hitting .253 with a .286 on-base percentage. In light of that, would new manager Matt Williams like the 24-year-old switch-hitter to dial back his approach? Walters did hit at least .300 at Class A in both 2010 and '11.
"I think his stroke is his stroke. It's very difficult to change a tiger's stripes," Williams said. "He has power from both sides of the plate. I think the maturation process is such that as he goes within his career, he'll learn that home runs come and you can't force them. You can't stand up there and say, 'I'm a power guy, and this is what I do,' and get away from your game, whatever it is. So I'd like to see him eventually become a .300 hitter with power.
"What that means to me is situations where he can turn on a baseball or he's ahead in the count or he knows what's coming, or whatever it is, he can go ahead and let her fly. But there's also times where he's just going to have to drive a run in and he can ease a single up the middle. That'll make his average go up, his RBIs go up, and he'll maintain the same power."
Walters doubled from both sides of the plate while coming off the bench at shortstop Friday, and he got the start at third base Saturday, ripping a single and drawing a walk in two plate appearances.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less