Pirates second baseman Neil Walker saw his first game action in thirteen days, making a rehab start in Altoona tonight for the AA Curve. The switch-hitter went 1-for-4 from the right side, registering a double in his final at bat before leaving the game. Walker will get the start again tomorrow, batting left-handed with a right-hander on the mound for the Richmond Squirrels.
“The plan was to get four at bats today and then tomorrow I’ll play all nine innings. It was nice to get four at bats, and timing-wise that’s about what I needed for the day,” said Walker.
“It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly, actually,” he added.
Since he’s been out of action for close to two weeks, the key to the rehab starts is to not only make sure his lacerated hand is okay but also to get his timing back at the plate.
“It took until my last at bat to get my feet back underneath me. That’s to be expected after not playing for 13 days. Hopefully, it’ll be just as good as going into my fourth at bat tomorrow,” said Walker.
He added, “You never know how you’re going to react as far as missing two weeks in a row. But the hand didn’t give me any issues. It just took a few at bats to get my rhythm and timing back.”
While the six stitches on his hand have needed time to heal, this isn’t the sort of injury that can require a long rehabilitation. Walker is hoping to be back with the club and ready to play in New York later this weekend.
“That’s hopefully what I’m going to do, to get right back and play everyday. That’s why I kept my running up and throwing program up as far as the two weeks I missed, when I felt capable of doing that. I’m hoping to slip right back in the line-up and contribute,” said the Pittsburgh area native.