PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It was not until after undergoing back surgery that Neil Walker realized, truly, the pain that had nagged him for much of the past four years. Before surgery to repair a herniated disc, Walker tiptoed out of bed each day concerned about his body's ability to cooperate. Now, he awakens with no such worries.
Buoyed by that freshness, Walker made his first game appearance Sunday since undergoing surgery, playing five innings at second base in the Mets' 5-2 win over the Tigers. Finishing 0-for-2 with a strikeout, Walker called the game activity "a real sense of relief."
"I can tell as soon as I wake up in the morning that anything that I dealt with basically for four years is completely gone," Walker said. "Today was a really good day. There was no apprehension on my part. To take some full swings, to get those out of the way, those are the last kind of hurdles that make me fully feel confident in what I'm doing."
X-rays on Kevin Plawecki's left knee came back negative, confirming the catcher suffered nothing more than a bruise in Saturday's loss to the Nationals. Plawecki, who is slated to begin the season as the starting catcher at Triple-A Las Vegas, sported a compression wrap on the knee Sunday morning but said he felt significantly better. He is day to day.
Ready to progress
On Sunday morning, Zack Wheeler completed his third bullpen session since the Mets briefly shut him down with right elbow tenderness earlier this month. The next step for Wheeler, who has not pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2014, is to throw batting practice later this week. He is tentatively scheduled to return to game action the second week of March.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.