NLCS loss may signal end of Walker's career
ST. LOUIS -- Larry Walker would have preferred to go out another way.
But after taking a called third strike in the ninth inning of the Houston Astros' NL Championship Series-clinching 5-1 win over St. Louis on Wednesday night, Walker sounded like he was through.
"I couldn't even breathe," Walker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "All these emotions were going every direction. I knew it was it. I'm not coming back."
Walker had frequently suggested this season would be his last. He struggled through a season in which he received cortisone shots on four different occasions to relieve the pain of a herniated disc in his neck, but still hit .289 with 15 homers in 100 games.
But by the playoffs, Walker was far from the five-time All-Star who led the NL in hitting three times. He was 3-for-19 in the NLCS and 3-for-28 in the postseason.
"That was it, probably," Walker said. "Unfortunately, we came up a little short."
Manager Tony La Russa praised Walker for his overall talent. He hit .313 with 383 homers in 17 seasons with Montreal, Colorado and St. Louis, stole 230 bases and won seven Gold Gloves.
"Most people know the kind of player that he has been his whole
-- I mean, just a gifted all-around everything," La Russa said. "In fact, I think he probably would be in the top three of just about every category -- baserunning, defense, handling the bat.
"What we came to learn about him: He's really an outstanding personality."
Walker said he'll miss the competition.
"Putting on a uniform and going out there and challenging nine other guys to a baseball game was always a blast," he said. "It's a great life."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.