Pirates notebook: Neil Walker back with team, feels good after surgery

Neil Walker had enough of watching the Pirates from home, so he returned to the clubhouse Thursday three days after having an emergency appendectomy.

Walker said his abdomen is sore, but he feels good.

“Sore and missing an organ,” he said. “Fortunately it was at the lower end of appendicitis. I didn’t have that doubled over in pain or bursting in there, which would’ve been a longer recovery time.”

Walker will travel with the team to Miami this weekend to be a “cheerleader” and anticipates returning to the lineup when his 15-day disabled list stint is up.

“I’m going to try and be ready as quickly as the 15 days allow me. Matt Holliday [of the St. Louis Cardinals] had his in 2010 or 2011 and came back in two or three days,” Walker said. “I’m going to do everything I can to be back in the lineup as soon as possible. Baseball doesn’t really care about timing, how you’re playing, how the team’s playing. Sometimes everyone is healthy, other times it seems everyone is dinged up.”

The pain first hit about 2 p.m. Monday.

“It felt like a really bad cramp and just wouldn’t go away,” he said. “They shot me over to the doctor’s office and at about 6 o’clock I was asking them to hurry up because I needed to get back and play. I was going to try and play. Then they said you’re not going anywhere.”

The procedure was laparoscopic and required a night’s stay in the hospital.

Walker said he hopes to start biking shortly but has been mobile without issue.

As long as the wounds are healing well and he feels OK, he has been told he can do what he can.

“The most important thing for me is to keep my legs strong and not get too far away from game shape,” Walker said. “I think probably the first step is getting on a bike, move around. I’ve been able to walk up steps, do everything normally.

“Hopefully I’m back to normal in 48 hours with just a couple dots in my stomach and a sore belly.”

Excitement at the top

Gregory Polanco made his debut batting leadoff Thursday, a role the organization had him shift to for his final week with Class AAA Indianapolis.

“He embraced it. You tell everybody when you move them there, ‘Don’t change your game,’ ” said manager Clint Hurdle. “He didn’t have to change his game. He’s basically showed patience, [is] aggressive within the strike zone, looking for a pitch, using the whole field. He bunted a few more times down there, hit and run.

“Very confident moving him up there. I don’t expect he’ll change anything.”

Polanco was followed by Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen in the lineup — his fellow outfielders — and Hurdle couldn’t help but grin about that trio in that order.

“It looks really good, too. Polanco-Marte-McCutchen. That looks good,” Hurdle said. “Not why we’re doing it, but it does look good.”

Good news on injury front

The Pirates do not think Josh Harrison is a candidate for the disabled list, the day after he turned his ankle and was removed from the game.

“Josh has gone through different testing, different drills, he’s now in the process of hitting,” Hurdle said. “We think he’s improved from [Wednesday]. Don’t feel he’s a DL candidate and that was the best news. … We believe he could be possibly used off the bench [Thursday night].”

No timetable is set for Harrison to officially return.

Veteran infielder called up

The Pirates promoted Michael Martinez from Indianapolis before Thursday’s game and optioned right-hander Casey Sadler back to Class AAA.

Martinez brings speed, depth and an ability to play multiple infield positions. He was batting .229 for the Indians. In three years with the Philadelphia Phillies, he hit .187 in 364 at-bats.

Rotation still in flux

Hurdle said it was too early to announce a starter for Sunday in Miami, the spot in the order that would have belonged to Francisco Liriano, who went on the disabled list Wednesday.

Ryan Petrovich contributed to this report. Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com.

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