Neil Walker to don father's number with Mets

NEW YORK -- Steven Matz played Santa Claus at the New York Mets' holiday party for local schoolchildren on Tuesday at Citi Field, but the attention primarily was on new teammate Neil Walker.

Walker, acquired last week from the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-hander Jonathon Niese, participated in the event along with backup outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Walker donned a No. 20 Mets jersey. That's the number his father, Tom, wore as a relief pitcher with the Montreal Expos from 1972 through '74. That number was unavailable with the Pirates because it was retired in honor of Hall of Famer Pie Traynor.

"I never had an opportunity to wear it in Pittsburgh," Walker said. "It was a retired number there. I'll be proudly wearing it here in New York."

Walker, a second baseman, met with manager Terry Collins during his visit to Queens on Tuesday. Walker plans to spend a few days in New York to locate a residence for the 2016 season.

Walker, 30, will be a free agent after the 2016 season. Asked if he is looking at the Mets as a one-year stop in his career or a potential long-term home, Walker said: "I haven't really given it much thought. I'm excited about what's going on here now. I guess we'll kind of cross that bridge when it comes. I haven't given it much thought. And I haven't had any conversations really with anybody about it."

On teaming up with Asdrubal Cabrera in the middle infield, Walker added: "I've actually played against him all the way through the minor leagues when he was with Cleveland. He's obviously a very good player himself. I think we have a lot of similarities, obviously, being middle infielders and being switch hitters. I think there's a lot we can learn from each other. I'm excited to get to work with him."