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Pirates notebook: Walker activated from DL; Mercer optioned to Triple-A

| Monday, May 13, 2013, 3:15 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker flies out against the Brewers on Monday, May 13, 2013, at PNC Park.

Neil Walker said the first time he slid into second base during a double play at Double-A Altoona, he thought about when he was accidentally spiked by the St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma on April 26.

“I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind,” said Walker, who ended up on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 27 with a right-hand laceration. “At the same time, the odds of that injury happening were so slim, and the chances of it happening again are extremely slim.”

Walker was reinstated from the DL on Monday in time for the Pirates' series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.

He spent the weekend on a rehabilitation assignment at Altoona and went 5 for 12.

The second baseman said that he had hoped to rejoin the Pirates on Sunday in New York, but after Friday's Curve game was rained out, he felt it was important to stay and get some at-bats against a left-handed pitcher before returning to the majors.

“You have to try to take your emotions out of it because when you're healed, which I pretty much was Tuesday when I got the stitches out, I felt like I wanted to play immediately,” Walker said. “I couldn't with the 15-day DL, but you have to slow yourself down and know that missing two full weeks of swinging the bat, you're not going to be where you need to be.”

• With Walker back, Jordy Mercer was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The infielder went 8 for 31 (.258) in nine games in his second stint in the majors. He had three home runs, four RBI, two doubles and five runs scored. He also had .281 on-base percentage and .613 slugging percentage. “He played very well,” said manager Clint Hurdle, adding that Mercer could be in the mix for the starting shortstop position next spring. “Everything he did was good. He's walking out with a much better feeling of who he is and what kind of player he thinks he can be, and knowing that, he's done nothing but increase our understanding of what he can be. As I told him, he'll be back, and the role could be significantly different than the role was this time.”

• Closer Jason Grilli abruptly left the Pirates' clubhouse wearing street clothes Monday afternoon. Hurdle declined to share the reason for his closer leaving. Grilli dressed for the game.

• Third-base coach Nick Leyva left the team for a “few games” for personal reasons. In his absence, Dave Jauss will coach first base, and Rick Sofield moves to third.

— Karen Price

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