Walker hopes to return to lineup today after MRI

Walker hopes to return to lineup today after MRI

NEW YORK -- Neil Walker has battled lower back tightness from time to time over the past five seasons, but on Wednesday, Mets manager Terry Collins voiced his concern about the injury.

The second baseman underwent an MRI on Wednesday and was absent from New York's starting lineup against the Pirates, marking the third consecutive game he's missed. But Walker told Collins late Wednesday that he expects to return to the lineup on Thursday.

"Hopefully, Neil's in there tomorrow," Collins said, more optimistic about Walker's condition after Wednesday's 11-2 win over the Pirates. "He came in and felt a lot better, got some medication, which helped."

Collins said that Walker woke up Wednesday morning and sent a text to the Mets' training staff updating his condition before doctors said that he had to come in for further evaluation.

In 2012, Walker was shut down by the Pirates for the final six games of the season due to lower back soreness, and he has missed games because of the injury since.

Walker has been one of the Mets' most consistent hitters this season, batting .271 (56-for-207) with 13 home runs and 25 RBIs in 59 games.

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.