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Walker joins Triple-A in 1st step toward return

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Mets second baseman Neil Walker, who suffered a partial tear in his left hamstring running to first base during the fourth inning of the Mets' 9-4 win over the Cubs on June 14, will join Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday in Memphis to begin a rehab assignment that could see him return to the Majors as early as next week.

The tricky aspect of the rehab process, general manager Sandy Alderson said a few weeks ago, is the stabilization of Walker's knee, since the injury was to the lower part of the hamstring.

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NEW YORK -- Mets second baseman Neil Walker, who suffered a partial tear in his left hamstring running to first base during the fourth inning of the Mets' 9-4 win over the Cubs on June 14, will join Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday in Memphis to begin a rehab assignment that could see him return to the Majors as early as next week.

The tricky aspect of the rehab process, general manager Sandy Alderson said a few weeks ago, is the stabilization of Walker's knee, since the injury was to the lower part of the hamstring.

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To offset those concerns, Walker has worn a brace on the knee while resuming baseball activities.

"It was a little weird to get used to at first," Walker said.

Walker was hitting .270 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 60 games before the injury and had posted a slash line of .319/.403/.570 since May 1.

Manager Terry Collins is pleased with the way Walker performed the drills the training staff has put him through, which included three straight days of hard running, consistent batting practices and, more recently, taking grounders.

"The running has been great," Collins said. "The knee has not bothered him at all."

After finishing their current homestand against the Cardinals and A's, the Mets open a West Coast swing on Monday in San Diego. Ideally, Walker said, he'd rejoin the team there. Collins is also hopeful that Walker can return around that time, but he said that will be determined on how he responds to the rehab games.

"Obviously, I think there'll be a little bit of a process his first game to see how he comes out of it," Collins said. "I don't know how many games they plan on playing him, but we sure hope he meets us in San Diego."

Collins added that it is still too early to plan how the infield will line up when Walker returns. Asdrubal Cabrera, who demanded a trade when Walker's injury led the Mets to move him from shortstop to second base in favor of Jose Reyes, has since toned down that hard-line stance and recently said, "I'm [playing] second base right now. That's my position."

Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Mets, Neil Walker