Pirates notebook: 'Tired' Walker gets a rest for Pirates


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SAN DIEGO -- After 58 consecutive starts to begin the season, second baseman Neil Walker was not in the lineup Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.

"Because he's tired," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Walker, however, pinch-hit for Travis Snider in the eighth and flied out to center after Josh Harrison, who started at second instead of Walker, doubled to open the inning.

Hurdle told Walker during the weekend series in Los Angeles that he planned to rest him Wednesday. Combined with the scheduled day off today, Walker would have gotten 48 consecutive hours of rest.

"We're also making sure that we hold onto the fact and we're mindful of the fact that he's played the last two seasons hurt," Hurdle said. "He's not made of Teflon."

Walker had a herniated disc in his lower back in the second half of 2012, an injury that ended his season early. He went on the disabled list twice last year because of a cut on his hand, suffered when he was spiked, and an oblique strain. Walker also led the majors before Wednesday in getting hit by pitches (10).

"He's been hit," Hurdle said. "He plays second base, he gets knocked down, taken out on slides, he's getting to run the bases more so than any other season, so he's sliding. There's a lot of activity. He's had a full log of activity all over the place." Outfielder Jason Bay with 79 games in 2007 was the last Pirate to surpass Walker's string of starts at the beginning of a season.

5 years well spent

It was June 4, 2009, and Andrew McCutchen dug in against Mike Pelfrey to lead off the bottom of the first in his major league debut. Three All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove, two Silver Sluggers and a Most Valuable Player award later, he reached the five-year anniversary of his debut Wednesday in style.

"He's done well with it," Hurdle said. "He's used his time very well."

Entering the game Wednesday, McCutchen led all National League players in hits since his debut (877).

He was hitting .300 with a .422 on-base percentage this season. He had walked 44 times, the most in the NL, and had only 41 strikeouts.

Marte sits again

Left fielder Starling Marte was not in the starting lineup Wednesday for the second consecutive day.

He entered the Pirates victory Tuesday night against the Padres, however, as a pinch-hitter.

"He's not being banished to the bench for X amount of days, but, right now, we're just unplugging him as I said [Tuesday]," Hurdle said. "Let him get some opportunities to work in a different light. I'd like to find a way to keep him out."

Jose Tabata started in left, Snider in right.

Hurdle said he wanted them to get a game's worth of plate appearances before the off day. Neither has played with much frequency since Harrison took over right field.

No Polanco promotion -- yet

A high-ranking Pirates official said that, as of Wednesday evening, the Pirates did not plan to promote top prospect Gregory Polanco, despite numerous reports to the contrary.

Polanco, 22, has wrecked Class AAA pitching this season, hitting .351 with a .410 on-base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage for Indianapolis through his first 249 plate appearances there. He had 6 home runs, 16 doubles and 14 steals.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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