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Walker’s the guy at second; Iwamura to the bench

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Manager John Russell said on Monday that Neil Walker will now get the majority of time at second base, and that Aki Iwamura has been moved to the bench.

Walker, a Pine-Richland grad, has hit safely in four of six games since being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on May 25 and has doubled three times in the last three games. He made four starts at third and two at second going into Monday’s game starting at second against the Chicago Cubs.

Iwamura, who snapped an 0-for-34 streak at the plate, has struggled all season and is currently batting .173.

“(Walker) has done a nice job,” Russell said. “We’re not giving him the job, but we’ll see how it goes. He still has a lot of work to do and has to fine-tune his skills at second, but he’s made good progress.”

Iwamura’s relegation to the bench doesn’t mean he’s never going to start again, Russell said. But they hope to get him in the weight room more and working more toward full health as far as his knee is concerned. Iwamura had surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament last year while with Tampa Bay and has also missed several games this year with a hamstring injury.

“No player likes being told they’re not going to play much,” Russell said of Iwamura’s reaction to the decision. “It’s not an easy pill to swallow. I’m sure he’s disappointed and upset but hopefully he takes it the right way.”

Russell also said that center fielder Andrew McCutchen will bat leadoff, which was Iwamura’s spot in 35 of 51 games.

“He thrived at leadoff last year and he enjoys it,” Russell said. “We’re trying to set the table for the team and energize the offense.”

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