Polanco working hard to find consistency

The ability to find consistency in professional baseball is something very few players are able to achieve.

But, the select few who are fortunate enough to play at a high level on a consistent basis usually are very successful.

West Virginia Power outfielder Gregory Polanco has found the ability to string together stellar performances in a row requires thorough preparation.

Polanco was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 11, 2009.

His fielding has been impressive all season, while only committing two errors in 51 games. So, most of Polanco's focus has been on improving his impact at the plate.

"I go out with (hitting) coach Edgar (Varela) almost every day and practice hitting different pitches," Polanco said. "He throws me pitches inside, outside, high and low, so I'm comfortable with all of them."

Early in the year, Polanco saw his batting average experience a roller-coaster ride.

"It was hard at the beginning for me to be comfortable enough to do things often," he said. "I just wasn't comfortable enough to be consistent."

Now, however, the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native has registered a seven-game hitting streak and his .304 average at the plate ranks him second on the Power team.

"I'm very confident. I've been working hard so far," Polanco said. "I'm very happy with the results that have come from the hard work I have put in."

Polanco hasn't exactly made a drastic change in his stance or approach in the box. He has simply just put in the hours to find his comfort zone.

"I've tried to improve my hitting stance, and the placement of my hands, but nothing too major," Polanco said. "I want good results. I needed to make a small change to find them. The change has helped me a lot."

An intriguing quality the 6'4" 170-pound center fielder possesses, other than his large size, is the quickness of his hands.

The left-hander has turned on many inside fastballs this season and is tied for the team lead with eight home runs. This is something that he has been working over long before the season began.

"The main thing I've wanted to improve is the quickness of my hands. I really worked on this in March," Polanco said. "I'm a contact hitter. I make very good contact. But it has been because of the work I have put in before games. And I need to be quick with my hands to make contact.

Polanco's team has struggled this year while posting an 19-39 record just a few days before the All-Star break. Despite the struggles, Polanco has remained confident.

"I really want to continue to hit well," Polanco said. "My fielding has been good all year and I just want to help the team from the plate. I have to work hard every day because I won't get any better if I don't work."

If an opposing pitcher wants to know the weakness of the young, talented Polanco, it may be to find a way to throw strikes early in the count. Polanco admits that he has struggled when he is behind in the count.

"I need to work on getting ahead in the count," Polanco said. "I'm much more dangerous as a hitter when I'm ahead in the count. I'm able to sit on my pitches and really drive the ball."

Despite his large size, Polanco is one of the quickest members of the Power team. He leads the team in stolen bases with 15.

"Whether it's stealing bases or getting hits, I need to just work hard," Polanco said. "One thing I've learned is that the hard work you put in will hopefully lead to positive results."

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