Is Pirates’ patience with Gregory Polanco wearing thin?
For the first time in almost four years, Gregory Polanco went a three-game span without being in the Pirates’ starting lineup. The most recent time a healthy Polanco did not start any of three consecutive Pirates games was in his 2014 rookie season when he lost his starting right field spot to Travis Snider.
While the Pirates have been operating under a system of using four “starting” outfielders in three spots, not since the rotation was adopted had the Pirates not started one of their four outfielders for three consecutive days.
— Jerry DiPaola (@JDiPaola_Trib) May 27, 2018
Clint Hurdle confirmed Polanco is not dealing with an injury. He entered all three games as a pinch hitter.
“I’m trying to play the guys we feel are going to match up best,” Hurdle said. “This is maybe one of the first times that somebody’s had to sit two days in a row, but performance comes into play as well.”
Polanco endured a brutal stretch from May 20-June 16 in which he hit .127 with a .431 OPS, no home runs and 20 strikeouts in 63 at bats — a period that coincided with the emergence of rookie Austin Meadows.
But in the five games leading into Saturday, Polanco had reached base 12 times in 18 plate appearances with a home run and a double (1.500 OPS). Also, his OPS in June of .743 is better than that of Meadows (.711) or either of the Pirates’ other outfielders (Starling Marte, .580; Corey Dickerson, .640).
On Friday, the Pirates faced a left-handed starter. On Saturday, Dickerson returned from a three-day personal leave. Each in part helps explain why Polanco did not start either of those two games.
Polanco’s nine home runs are tied for the team lead with Marte and Francisco Cervelli.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.