Neil Walker again dispatched to doctor as back woes persist

NEW YORK -- After awakening with lower-back discomfort on Wednesday morning, New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker again was dispatched to the Hospital for Special Surgery for an evaluation by team doctors. Manager Terry Collins had hoped Walker would be ready to return to the lineup by now, but he continues to be sidelined since departing Saturday’s game in Milwaukee.

“He woke up this morning and sent a text and said, ‘There’s no way I can play today,’” Collins said. “So, as our medical staff does, they contact the doctors. The doctors said he needs to come in and see us.”

When the lower-back issue initially flared up over the weekend, Walker suggested that he annually has this trouble and it clears after a couple of days with the help of a chiropractor and anti-inflammatory medication. However, this time the issue has persisted. Walker also had been seen by team doctors on Monday’s off day.

Back in 2012 with the Pirates, Walker had a significant lower-back issue and was shut down. He missed the final nine games of that season.

"We’re hoping that the reports, when we get them back, are positive. But, obviously, I don’t think we’ll have him tonight,” Collins said. “I just hope he’s going to be able to play, if not tomorrow, then on Friday.”

After two starts by Kelly Johnson at second base, Matt Reynolds will start Wednesday against left-hander Jeff Locke.

The Mets recently have endured a rash of back injuries to high-profile players. David Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis last season. Lucas Duda is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back.

“I’ve checked with our strength and conditioning people,” Collins said. “Certainly there’s nothing different being done in the training room or the weight room with these guys.”

Collins noted that a few years back, the Mets had a rash of side-muscle injuries. Things sometimes coincidentally occur in clusters, although the Mets are reviewing their protocols anyway.

As far as a common denominator with the back issues, Collins said: “I don’t have an answer for you. They have been a concern, because there have been a rash of them. We’ve got to re-evaluate how we’re stretching, how we’re loosening up. It’s a continuing learning process. We’ve got the doctors involved to see what we can do. We have an outstanding training staff and conditioning staff, but we’ve got to revisit what’s going on, because when you get a bad back, it’s not just one day. As anybody who that’s ever had a bad back in here knows, it could be a period of time. So we’ve got to take a look at it.”