Exercising caution, Walker heads back to bench

Exercising caution, Walker heads back to bench

PITTSBURGH -- The uncertainty of what he is dealing with hit Neil Walker right in the face when he awoke on Wednesday. The morning after he felt "great, the best I've felt yet," he didn't feel well enough to risk remaining in the lineup for the second game of the series against the Brewers.

His recovery from tightness in his lower back has been slow and arduous, and apparently is ongoing.

"As great as I felt at the start of [Tuesday's] game, I was drained before it was over," Walker said. "As badly as I want to play, I have to listen to my body."

Walker thus reclaimed his seat on the bench, with Brock Holt starting at second, back in the leadoff spot.

Walker played entire games on Saturday and Sunday, rested on Monday and played nine innings on Tuesday before needing another "fallback" day. He may have to cope with that type of schedule for the remaining two weeks of the regular season.

"It's challenging now for him. He gives us what he can give us," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It might be every other day, it might be two days then an off-day. We'll just have to take it day by day.

"He felt strong in the middle of [Tuesday's] game, then it got away from him late. He goes through a downward spiral, then seems to get rejuvenated. If he can't function to be competitive, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense [to play him]"