PITTSBURGH — Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco hasn’t seen game action since July 21. Tonight, the hot-hitting Polanco looks to revitalize a struggling lineup.
Polanco and the Pirates, each respectively coming off subpar first halves, came out firing on all cylinders early following the All-Star break, which narrowed the then-Milwaukee Brewers’ division lead to two games and surpassing .500 for the first time since April.
In addition to a few others, one man to thank for the push is the sometimes callow outfielder Polanco.
Polanco’s production at the plate was pedestrian at best in the first half — amassing a .258/.317./.404 slash line. However, the second half opened our eyes to the potential Polanco possesses. He showed a superb approach and consistently solid contact in most at bats. All of which equated to Polanco mashing the ball at a .367 second half clip while slugging .600, including four doubles and a long ball.
Right away Polanco’s absence became visible.
After exiting a game against the Colorado Rockies early 11 days ago, the team’s record then sat at 49-48. Fast forward to August 2, entering tonight’s game against the abysmal Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates are six games back and 51-54 overall.
Though they’re not out of it yet, getting Polanco back now may light a spark under a team that so desperately needs it.
Today, the Pirates official Twitter page announced the move.
ROSTER MOVES: Gregory Polanco has been reinstated from the 10-day DL and outfielder Jordan Luplow has been optioned to AAA Indy.
— Pirates (@Pirates) August 2, 2017
As a corresponding move, young outfielder Jordan Luplow was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room on the 25-man roster.
Time will tell if the powerful outfield trio of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Polanco can lead the Pirates back into division contention.
Trevor Williams will deliver the first pitch of tonight’s affair at 7:05 p.m.
Note: Relief pitcher Wade LeBlanc will not be available for the foreseen future as he was placed on the bereavement list today, prompting the Pirates to recall 24-year-old Dovydas Neverauskas.
Joe Cinello covers Pirates material for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (@JCinello).