Gregory Polanco hurt again in Pirates’ loss to Blue Jays
TORONTO — Gregory Polanco is injured. Again.
A sore left hamstring forced the Pirates right fielder to leave Saturday’s 7-2 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Without giving an indication of the severity of Polanco’s injury, the Pirates listed his status as day to day. Polanco did not speak to reporters after the game.
“Something (in the hamstring) grabbed and that was it,” acting manager Tom Prince said. Prince is filled in for Clint Hurdle, who attended the funeral for former major league player and manager Don Baylor.
This is the third time in four months that Polanco has been hobbled by his left hamstring. It landed him on the 10-day disabled list in mid-May and again July 22.
Polanco also missed time this season because of injuries to his shoulder, groin, knee and ankle.
On Friday, Polanco took a hard foul ball off his right foot. Scans revealed no fractures, and he was cleared to play Saturday.
When he came off the DL 11 days ago, Polanco admitted he was surprised by how quickly he recovered. He did not make a minor league rehab assignment.
If Polanco goes on the DL again, it could endanger the Pirates’ fragile hopes of staying the NL Central race.
“It sucks,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “That guy, we’re trying to keep him healthy, but we need to be safe about the whole situation. We need him to be healed. We don’t need him to be 80 or 85 percent.
“Hamstrings are a difficult thing. You don’t want that to happen to a 25-year-old. He needs to be healthy. I don’t know everything that’s going on (with Polanco), but we need him back. We need to get him healthy.”
McCutchen was not in the lineup Saturday after tweaking his left knee the night before. Prince said he never considered putting McCutchen in the game after Polanco went down.
“I was ready to go,” McCutchen said. “But they wanted to give me a day (off) just to be sure. Don’t want to end up like Polanco.”
Sean Rodriguez took’s Polanco spot in the lineup.
In his major league debut, right-hander Chris Rowley held the Pirates to one run on five hits in 51⁄3 innings.
Rowley began this season at Double-A and was called up after pitching in just 10 games (six starts) at Triple-A. The first big leaguer to come out of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Rowley missed two seasons of minor league ball while he fulfilled his Army commitment.
“A great story,” Prince said before the game. “I love it. He served his country. Now, he’s getting his life’s dream.”
The loss went to righty Trevor Williams, who went six innings and yielded four runs (three earned) on four hits. He walked four and struck out seven.
Three of the walks Williams issued went to sluggers Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson.
“We weren’t going to give in to certain guys,” Williams said. “They’re a team that can really hurt you with the long ball. When I was behind guys, I wasn’t going to miss over the middle of the plate. That led to a lot of walks.”
A leadoff walk in the first inning turned into the Blue Jays’ first run. Bautista went to third base on Justin Smoak’s single and scored on Steve Pearce’s grounder.
The Pirates tied it in the second. Josh Bell tripled to left and scored when Jordy Mercer whacked a pitch that was up and out of the zone for a two-out single.
Williams scuffled through a 28-pitch second inning and let the Blue Jays regain the lead.
Kevin Pillar was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Rob Rufsnyder singled. Bautista checked his swing — barely — on a 3-2 sinker in the dirt, which loaded the bases.
Williams got ahead 0-2 against Donaldson, then missed low on four consecutive pitches. Pillar scored on the walk.
“You hate walking a guy with the bases loaded,” Williams said. “But I’m not going to give in to Josh Donaldson so he can hit me for four runs or clear the bases. I’m OK walking him there.”
In the fifth, Bautista glared at Williams after being plunked on the back. Donaldson followed with a blooper into shallow right field.
After the ball fell for a single, Polanco scooped it and immediately limped toward the Pirates’ dugout. After being briefly examined on the field by head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk, Polanco went to the clubhouse.
Williams struck out Smoak and walked Pearce. Pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales rolled what could have been an double-play grounder to short. Smoak was forced at second, but Adam Frazier threw wildly to first base. Bautisa and Donaldson scored.
A throwing error by third baseman Josh Harrison let two more runs score in the seventh.
Jordy Mercer hit a solo homer in the ninth.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.