Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Goldeyes have their 'Ace' back

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THE 'Ace' on the mound is returning to the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Pitcher Ace Walker has been signed by the Goldeyes to return for the 2012 American Association season.

Walker, 28, recorded 10 wins last season and set the Goldeyes' record for most career victories with 38. This season, the righty will become the first starter to play five seasons with the Goldeyes.

"He's about as reliable as they come in terms of starting pitching in independent baseball," Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said in a statement. "He's going to take the ball every fifth day and pitch into the sixth or seventh inning. If a guy can be that consistent, your team is obviously going to have a chance to win."

Some other milestones could be on the horizon this season: Walker needs 15 strikeouts to pass Forney for the Goldeyes' career record and he would pass Jeff Bittiger in career shutouts if he records four this season.

Last year, Walker went 10-4 in 21 starts with a 3.37 ERA. He became the third pitcher in team history to record 10 wins in two or more seasons, joining Forney and Rafael Gross. Walker won 12 games in 2009 when he was the Northern League's pitcher of the year.

"I consider ourselves lucky to have a guy like Ace for the number of years that we've had him. It doesn't happen very often," Forney said.

A product of Sparks, Okla., Walker holds Goldeyes' records for complete games (13), games started (84) and innings pitched (553) and single-season records for complete games (six in 2009) and games started (22 in 2010).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2012 $sourceSection0

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