Polanco An Emerging Star For Pirates

Gregory Polanco came to the big leagues last year with tremendous fanfare and expectations.

He was on fire for about a month and then struggled down the stretch and lost his job to journeyman outfielder Travis Snider.

There was a question of whether he would be displaced again this season. On July 6, Polanco was hitting just .231.

The Pirates turned to Polanco to give them a spark when they moved him to the top of the batting order after leadoff hitter Josh Harrison tore a ligament in his thumb in early July.

The 23-year-old outfielder has responded in a big way.

Polanco has a .450 average with three homers during a nine-game hitting streak. The right fielder has five hits in the series against the Mets, including his seventh homer Saturday to match his total as a rookie from last year.

“He’s doing everything you can ask a leadoff hitter to do,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s really done a fine, fine job when we’ve needed him to put a foot down in that spot.”

“I have a lot of confidence,” Polanco said. “I really trust my hands, trust my approach and feel like I’m going to have a good at-bat every time.”

Polanco is starting to live up to his off the charts potential.

“This is definitely the best I’ve felt in a long time." he said.

“Let the kid play,” Hurdle said, when asked if a big second half from Polanco could be a shot in the arm for the Pirates. “Do you know how old he is? Just let the kid play. He’s a good player.”

Shortening his swing has paid big dividends for Polanco.

"I'm getting comfortable," Polanco explained. "I'm trying to stay more short with my swing, trying to make it shorter. I'm trying to stay short and drive the ball and just put the barrel to the ball."

Polanco just keeps working and getting better.

“I’m working hard every day," Polanco said. "I just keep working.”

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