TORONTO -- Second baseman Neil Walker was absent from the Pirates' lineup on Thursday as he continues to nurse a sore lower back. Xavier Paul was also out with tightness in his right hamstring, which flared up on him just before the start of Wednesday's game.
Walker characterized his back as "certainly not bad," but he has been dealing with some alignment issues for almost a week now. It was at its worst, he said, last Friday against the Red Sox, and improved over the weekend. But it then began plaguing him again after two games on the Rogers Centre's artificial turf.
"We're hoping it's just a little bit of misalignment and that we've gotten my pelvis straightened out," said Walker, who has just two hits in 17 at-bats since the ailment first surfaced. "You have to be sure to take care of yourself, especially when you're on this kind of stuff out there. I think it's a culmination of maybe not maintaining it correctly."
Taking Walker's place at second on Thursday was Josh Harrison, who had extensive experience at the position in the Minors.
Paul said he was feeling better a day after his hamstring tightened up, but manager Clint Hurdle said he'd be hesitant to use Paul in the series finale against the Blue Jays. Hurdle also suggested that a move to the disabled list could be necessary for Paul if he is not able to play by Saturday.
"He might get some more treatment," Hurdle said. "He went out and ran limited. We'll try to make a better, accurate read on it [Friday]."