Starling Marte rejoined the Pirates Friday after three minor league rehabilitation games and immediately rejoined the lineup.
The Pirates activated Marte, who was recovering from an oblique strain, from the 15-day disabled list before a game Friday against the Chicago Cubs. He hit second, behind Brock Holt.
"[Holt's] been playing at major league game speed here for the last five days," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Marte's going to catch up a little bit. I thought I'd slide him in that spot right in front of Andrew [McCutchen] and see if that's of some benefit as well."
Marte went on the disabled list Aug. 19. He played in one rehabilitation game with Class A State College and two with Class AAA Indianapolis, which is in the International League playoffs. He went 2 for 12 in those games, playing center field in the final two and acting as the designated hitter for State College.
Marte hit .253 with four home runs in 23 games before the injury.
"He's physically fit and ready to go," Hurdle said. "The athleticism he brings is very unique."
Neil Walker took 30 right-handed swings off a tee Friday, the latest step in his recovery from a tight lower back.
Walker, who has not played since Aug. 26 after his back locked up the following day, said the inflammation was mostly gone.
"I'll take all my ground balls," Walker said. "The moving up and down, left and right, hasn't been an issue. The biggest hurdle's going to be swinging."
Swinging left-handed is more painful, Walker said, because the pain resides in his left lower back.
Walker has had back issues before, but none that kept him out this long. He said he talked to back specialists and came away encouraged that the issue would not linger in his career.
"They didn't see anything being chronic or being stuff that could hamper me for a while," Walker said. "It's just a matter of getting this inflammation out of there and doing the maintenance necessary, the core strength and the hamstring stretching and strength to keep it where it needs to be."
Walker was unsure of a possible return date, but said he planned to be careful.
"It's not an ankle, it's not a wrist, it's not something you can tape up and take some Advil," he said. "The back is very delicate. I want to make sure that I feel very confident in what I'm doing before I step back in the box."
Hurdle said he anticipated Jose Tabata would be available off the bench Friday. Tabata bruised his left foot Tuesday fouling a ball off of it. Hurdle said playing the field gave Tabata more pain than batting. ... Travis Snider, who has not played since leaving a game Tuesday when his right hamstring tightened again, needed at least three days of rest, Hurdle said. "It's a very similar situation to where he was the last time," Hurdle said. "I don't think we probably gave it enough time down the last time or maybe it wouldn't have re-occurred." ... Jeff Karstens, who left his start Aug. 31 because of hip flexor pain, is nearing a bullpen session but will likely miss another start, Hurdle said.