Walker getting set for retirement

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

The Larry Walker farewell tour last night made its final stop in Canada.

The 38-year-old native of Maple Ridge, B.C., will in all likelihood call it quits when the St. Louis Cardinals' season comes to an end.

"It was a thrill the first time with the Rockies because it was my first time," Walker said of his first visit to Toronto in 2002 with the Colorado team. "More than likely this will be my last trip here. There's a good chance this will be my last year."

A three-time batting champ, a seven-time Gold Glover and the National League MVP in 1997, Walker can look back on a career that will have him flirting with a Hall of Fame selection. Although he has had a number of memorable seasons, Walker looks at 2004, when he was traded to St. Louis on Aug. 6, as something special. It marked just his second post-season appearance and first in the NLCS and World Series.

"I wish I could have had that experience many years ago, either in Montreal or Colorado," he said. "Playing in the playoffs and World Series, it is amazing. You always hear guys say 'you came here because you want to win' and you don't realize how true that is until you get the experience I got last year, to make it into the World Series.

"If we win the World Series this year, then it's 100% sure I'm retiring. It's the ultimate goal. If that happens, I'll be sitting on my porch watching my kids grow up."

A more poignant exit, at least from a nationalistic point of view, would be if Walker holds his retirement off until after next spring's proposed World Cup of baseball.

Walker isn't quite sure.

"I haven't really considered it yet," he said. "Like I said, in the off-season we're going to make a lot of decisions.

"But it sounds very interesting, to put your country's name on your jersey. I haven't done that since 1984 in the world youth championship. We'll see where it goes with that."

A career .314 hitter, Walker, who has had eight surgeries in his 17-season career, came into town sporting very un-Walker-type numbers. He is hitting .249 with five homers and 23 RBIs, but he's more than comfortable with it.

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"Father Time is creeping up on me," he said. "I realize that, so I'm just trying to make it through this year and try to contribute a little bit when I can.

"I really don't have a problem hitting .250 and I know my production is down. I'm getting on in age, I know my talent is diminishing. It has been going downhill and that's the way it goes.

"But when you come to the ball park and win and you're high-fiving on the field after the game, all the other stuff is kind of moot."


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