Padres to release Walker

Updated: March 26, 2007, 8:35 PM ET
Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The San Diego Padres plan to release infielder Todd Walker on Tuesday, a little more than a month after he won a $3.95 million salary in arbitration.

The Padres will owe Walker $971,311 in termination pay.

"This is strictly a baseball decision," general manager Kevin Towers said, adding that Walker's salary "didn't factor into the decision. We're two-time NL West champions and want to win again. For us it's putting the right 25 guys on the field to start the year and we felt there were people that were ahead of him."

Walker already was gone from the Padres' spring training camp on Monday afternoon. The team played a night game against Kansas City.

The 33-year-old Walker struggled, hitting just .225 in spring training, and the Padres are heavy with left-handed hitters off the bench.

Walker became a free agent after last season and the Padres offered him arbitration on Dec. 2, nearly three weeks before they signed Marcus Giles to a $3.75 million contract to play second base. Last year's starter, Josh Barfield, was traded to Cleveland in October for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.

"It wasn't an easy decision but we all felt it was the right decision," Towers said. "We felt we had better in-house candidates who had roster flexibility. We felt there were better fits. There weren't going to be a lot of at-bats for him."

The Padres offered $2.75 million to Walker, who joined them in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on July 31.

Walker said he accepted arbitration for the first time in his career because he wanted to stay with the Padres, the two-time NL West champions. He said he settled on his asking price so the Padres would have a tougher time trading him.

Walker originally came over to play third base, making 22 starts there. He also made 13 starts at second base.

Walker hit .282 with three homers and 13 RBIs with the Padres. Overall last season, he hit .278 with nine homers and 53 RBIs.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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