It may sound odd, but starting pitcher Corey Thurman and outfielder Chris Walker became friends even though the two have always been opponents. They became friends after playing against each other in Double-A in 2006. Despite playing on opposing teams, they had mutual respect for the way the other played the game.
“We became close right away,” Thurman said. “It was one of those things, we knew we were going to be friends after our first real conversation.
“If I was fast, which I’m not, I’d like to think I’d play the same way he does. He gets after it.”
Walker, 30, highlights the latest signings by the Revolution. York also signed former Somerset pitcher Jon Ellis and re-signed late-season acquisition Vince Harrison to play third. A leadoff center fielder for the Camden Riversharks for parts of the last three seasons, Walker last played in affiliated baseball for the Phillies in spring training 2009. He finished 2008 at Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels organization.
Thurman helped sell Walker on York, but Walker admitted he didn’t need much convincing.
“Honestly York has been one of my favorite places to play for a number of years,” Walker said. “Fans know me at the stadium. I thought it would be great place to jump on board.
“Camden has been very loyal to me, it was a great run but it was time to move on.”
Walker has batted .269 (298-for-1,108) during his past three seasons in the Atlantic League. Known for his speed, he has ranked second in steals during each of the last two seasons. He stole 61 bases in 2009 and 55 in 2010.
He’s coming off one of his better seasons, batting .281 with a .332 OBP and 23 doubles.
“My key to stopping camden was keeping him off base,” Thurman said. “If I stopped him I could concentrate on the other batters. If he reached base I had to worry about so many things.
“That’s his big key, when he gets on base he wreaks havoc. I know he’s going to be great addition for us because he won’t be wreaking havoc against us this year. He’ll be causing trouble for other teams.”
Ellis, 28, will have a chance to start for the Revs. He went 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA last season for Somerset. But he also has extensive experience starting. Used primarily as a reliever for the first six seasons of his pro career, he appeared in a career-high 57 games for Double-A San Antonio in 2008.
Harrison, 31, meanwhile could start the season as the Revs everyday third baseman. The Revs ill be without Ramon Castro, their playoff MVP and third baseman, but Harrison should provide a steady bat. He has a career .274 batting average with a .354 OBP in eight pro seasons, surviving a series of injuries that kept him out of baseball through all of 2005 and 2006. Originally a prospect in the Rays organization, Harrison had been acquired by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft on two occasions. He last played in affiliated baseball in 2008, splitting the year between the Marlins and Mets organizations.
A veteran of the independent Northern League, Harrison chose to return to the Atlantic League and York.
“That was my first championship,” Harrison said of York’s Atlantic League title in 2010. “That was something every player always tries to get. At one point in your career, when you’re younger you think it will happen. But 10 years later I was still waiting.”
The Revs have 15 players under contract, with the season opener scheduled against Camden at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 29 at Sovereign Bank Stadium.