Walker back in lineup

Thursday, June 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:29 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Larry Walker, returning to the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup Wednesday after missing five straight starts with a herniated disc in his neck, hit home runs in his first two at-bats against the Cincinnati Reds.

The often-injured outfielder hopes a cortisone shot he received on Monday will allow him to play to his ability. He’s struggled while dealing with several ailments this season, hitting .247 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 58 games. Walker, 38, has talked of retiring after the season.

“Hopefully everything gets better quick because I’m tired of really talking about it,” Walker said. “I’m back for a day, at least.”

Walker hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Ramon Ortiz in the second inning. He hit another two-run shot, his ninth, off Ortiz in the third.

Walker, 38, is a former NL MVP, three-time batting champion and seven-time Gold Glove winner. It was his second cortisone shot of the season.

“He passed the test,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “He had a good batting practice, better than he’s been, for sure.”

Walker said his range of mobility was much better “without all of the sharp pains.”

“I’ve never had back or neck problems,” Walker said. “This is all new to me.”

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