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updated: 7/19/2013 10:26 PM

Walker tough enough to succeed with Braves

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Is there a tougher coaching job in professional sports than major-league hitting coach?

The great ones get a handful of their players to average 3 hits every 10 plate appearances, so there is always the fear of failure.

And when big-league hitters fall into extended slumps, hitting coaches first get blamed and then they get fired.

From May, 2003 through the 2011 season, Greg Walker was the White Sox' hitting coach.

Through all of the good and bad, through the Sox' 2005 run to the World Series championship, Walker always seemed to be feeling the heat.

He's back at U.S. Cellular Field this weekend as the Atlanta Braves' hitting coach.

"It's strange," said Walker, who also played for the White Sox from 1982-90. "I don't know what to say. First of all when I left here I didn't know if I was going to do this job anymore and then the Braves' job came open, and me being from Georgia it ended up being very intriguing.

"I grew up a Braves fan. Two places that I played and grew up watching I got to be the hitting coach, so it's good. I like it. I ended up in a good spot. I hated to leave but it was time. It was time to go."

Walker, manager Ozzie Guillen, bench coach Joey Cora and third-base coach Jeff Cox all left after the Sox' turbulent 2011 season.

But Walker has found a home in Atlanta, and the Braves entered Friday night's game with 415 runs scored, the third-highest total in the National League. The White Sox ranked last in the American League with 345 runs scored.

There's already been plenty of speculation that current Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto is on the hot seat, especially with Jim Thome joining the organization as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.

Walker always seemed to be in danger of being fired during his long run as the White Sox' hitting coach, but he's in a good place with the first-place Braves.

"I might have stayed too long (with the Sox), actually," Walker said. "But I knew there would be a day when I would say, 'OK, I'm not the right guy for the job anymore,' and I figured it out that last year about halfway through. I talked to some of the players and the veterans and talked to Jerry (Reinsdorf) and said that would be it.

"I went home and this job came open. Bam. I went to interview and got it and it ended up being a good spot. We have a good young team and I like it a lot. It's a good organization."

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