| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates notebook: Walker expected to return to lineup Tuesday

Pirates/MLB Videos

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker forces out the Braves' Juan Francisco during the second inning Thursday, April 18, 2013, at PNC Park.
Monday, July 22, 2013, 5:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Second baseman Neil Walker has made a rapid recovery from a sore right oblique and likely will be in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.

Walker rejoined the Pirates and was scheduled to be examined Monday after a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. He has been on the disabled list since July 7.

“I feel good,” Walker said. “I had no problems, no setbacks. I took a lot of normal swings. The more I swung, the better it felt. That was very encouraging.”

Walker caught the injury early, so it did not require a lengthy recovery time. He was eligible to come off the DL on Monday, but manager Clint Hurdle opted to give Walker a day off before putting him back in the lineup.

“Thirteen days down with a three day rehab — that will be shortest amount of time down I've ever seen for a player with an oblique,” Hurdle said. “I think we pushed him dramatically, playing him three straight days (at Indy). With the experience we have in dealing with obliques, four days in a row is too much.”

Jordy Mercer has started the past nine games at second base. When Walker returns, the Pirates could clear a roster spot by either releasing Brandon Inge or sending Josh Harrison back to Indy. Inge is batting .181 and is hitless in his past 13 at-bats.

No hard feelings

During the telecast of the game Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds, broadcaster Thom Brennaman was heard whispering, “This guy sucks,” after Pirates lefty Jeff Locke walked Zack Cozart in the fifth inning. Video of the incident was on the Internet soon after the end of the game, and it created a firestorm among Pirates fans on Twitter.

Sunday night, Brennaman called Pirates media relations assistant Dan Hart and said his comment was not directed at Locke. Brennaman did not speak with Locke.

“I appreciate him reaching out to us, regardless of what was true or not true,” Locke said. “I thought it was a real gentlemanly move by him. He told Dan he actually thinks the world of me and thinks I have a bright future ahead of me.”

Locke said there are no hard feelings on his part.

“Even if (Brennaman) did (say it), he wouldn't be the first person and I promise you he won't be the last,” Locke said with a laugh. “Everyone's entitled to their opinion.”

Streaking, good and bad

Pirates righty Gerrit Cole has a chance to make some ignominious history Tuesday when he pitches against the Nationals.

Cole has dropped his past three decisions after beginning his big league career with a 4-0 record. The last rookie starter to lose four in a row after going 4-0 was right-hander Tom Candiotti, who did it in 1983 with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“For young players, more often than not, they'll learn more through adversity than they do through success,” Hurdle said.

“Gerrit's last three starts have given him an opportunity to look at things through a different lens, and that's important.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates starting pitcher Worley is in right place, right time with team
  2. Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
  3. Pirates notebook: Sadler gets first Grapefruit start
  4. Pirates notebook: Infield prospect Hanson used to playing elders
  5. Pirates willing to consider high salary to keep star McCutchen
  6. Pirates notebook: Nutting expects club to win division title
  7. Sawchik: Should McCutchen really get a huge salary bump?
  8. Rossi: Pirates better with Maz on scene
  9. Ex-Brewers star Hart hopes to prove to Pirates he still can play
  10. Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
  11. Pirates notebook: Tabata rediscovering his power