On December 6, this column reported that Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, whose 2012 season was cut short due to a back injury, had begun strengthening exercises with the aim of being ready in time for Spring Training.
Three months after leaving the Pirates lineup with a herniated disc, Walker has returned to the batters box.
The Pittsburgh native began rehabilitation immediately after the season. The back wasn‘t the only problem: Nerve damage had weakened his legs. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Bill Brink reports that Walker participated in six weeks of physical therapy, with workouts three times weekly in order to rehabilitate his lower back. Recently, Walker has been able to take batting practice from both sides of the plate.
Walker spoke about his workouts at last weekends' Pirate Fest. "I'm putting an added emphasis on core exercises, but outside of that nothing has hindered me as far as workouts." Walker, the NL leader in appearances as well as putouts amongst second baseman in 2011, added, "No setbacks, everything feels strong, everything feels good."
At that same event, Neil also spoke about reaching eligibility for contract arbitration to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I‘m excited about my first year of arbitration...I hope to be a Pirate for a long, long time. We‘ll see how it goes." Walker was paid $500G last season.