PITTSBURGH (AP) — Neil Walker’s homecoming will have to wait one more day.
The scheduled game between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates was postponed by rain Monday night and will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader Tuesday beginning at 4:05 p.m.
This is the Mets’ only visit to Pittsburgh this season. The game was called Monday night after a delay of 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Walker, who is from the Pittsburgh area, is returning as a visiting player for the first time since the Pirates traded him to the Mets for left-hander Jon Niese last December.
Niese (5-2, 4.36 ERA) and New York rookie Steven Matz (7-1, 2.60) were both pushed back a day to start the opener of the doubleheader. Jacob deGrom will pitch the second game for the NL champion Mets against Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano.
Walker was the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2004, made his major league debut in 2009 and then was their starting second baseman the past six seasons.
The switch-hitter spent the day at the home he and his wife, who is seven months pregnant with the couple’s first child, recently had built in Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs. Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole chauffeured Walker to the ballpark.
“I had only been in the visitors’ clubhouse once before and I had to rely on Kevin Conrad to show me around,” Walker said, referring to the visiting clubhouse manager at PNC Park. “There was definitely a little emotion there when we walked through the entrance in right field and I made a left turn toward the visitors’ dugout rather than walking straight to the home dugout.
“From the time I started playing tee ball until the end of last season, I’ve spent my whole life playing baseball in Pittsburgh.”
Walker leads NL second basemen with 13 home runs and has a .279 batting average through 53 games. He is hitting .366 in his last 12 games.
“He’s been a great addition for us,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s a good player and a real pro. We’re happy to have him.”
Niese said facing his former team would also be emotional. He spent his first eight seasons with the Mets, compiling a 61-61 record, before being dealt.
“It’ll be exciting, no doubt. A little weird,” Niese said. “Our senses are going to be heightened. They’re going to want to get me. I’m going to want to get them. But it’s all about execution.”
Mets: OF Juan Lagares was diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his left thumb after being examined at a hospital in New York. Collins said Lagares likely would be limited to pinch-running during the series and was fitted with a protected glove for his left hand. . CF Yoenis Cespedes returned to the posted lineup after sitting out Saturday’s game at Miami with a sore right hip then being limited to a pinch-hitting appearance Sunday. . C Travis d’Arnaud (strained right rotator cuff) began his rehab assignment Sunday with Class A St. Lucie as the designated hitter but won’t start playing behind the plate until next week.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli was scheduled to be in the lineup after missing three straight games with a bruised right foot.
Mets: Since losing his first start of the season April 11 against Miami, Matz is 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA in his last eight outings.
Pirates: Niese has allowed two runs or less in his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA during that span after compiling a 3-2 record and a 5.94 ERA in his first six starts.