Walker to start rehab games on Thursday

Walker to start rehab games on Thursday

PITTSBURGH -- Neil Walker's lacerated right hand continues to near game-playing shape, and the second baseman is on target to rejoin the Pirates when he is eligible to be activated off the disabled list, or the day after.

Walker will work out at PNC Park once again on Wednesday, then join Double-A Altoona on Thursday for the first of two rehab games.

"Then we'll reassess: Does he need more [rehab] games, or will he meet us in New York?" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Walker becomes eligible to come off the DL on May 12, when the Bucs will play the last game of a four-game weekend series against the Mets in Citi Field. The following night, they will be back in Pittsburgh for the start of a 10-game homestand.

"He'll either meet us when we get back from New York, or meet us there [for Sunday's game]," Hurdle said.

Since Walker suffered his injury late in the April 26 game in St. Louis, Brandon Inge and Jordy Mercer have alternated at second base. The pair has gone a combined 9-for-34 (.265) in Walker's place, and hit safely in each of the eight games prior to Tuesday night's 4-1 loss.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.