Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Polanco Groomed to Lead Off

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Polanco Groomed to Lead Off

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- Gregory Polanco shifted to the top of the order for the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians Saturday, a move designed to prepare him for an eventual promotion to the Pirates, general manager Neal Huntington said.

Polanco had been batting third for the Indians, a spot that belongs to reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen on the Pirates.

"As he's shown us more and more signs that he may be putting himself in a position to take that next step, we wanted to make sure we didn't ask him to do something at the major league level that he hasn't done in a long time," Huntington said. "There are some things we're trying to get him used to. Right field is obviously a big one, and that's gone well. I don't know that he's going to hit third for us. ... The last time I checked we've got a pretty good guy there."

The transition to batting leadoff can stymie some players, Huntington said. So getting Polanco reps at Class AAA could smooth the transition.

Though Huntington left open the possibility that he could be slotted into other spots in the order, as well.

"As the leadoff hitter, we want him to be the same guy. But being the first one to step in the box and start a game sometimes can be a little bit different," Huntington said. "Hitting after the pitcher sometimes can be a little bit different. Basically we wanted to reintroduce him to the top of the order which is where conceivably he could fit up here."

As for when Polanco will be in Pittsburgh? Popular assumption is that there is a specific date Polanco will be brought up to avoid Super 2 designation and an extra year of arbitration eligibility.

But teams never know when that date is, and the Pirates have no secret algorithm to figure it out, Huntington said.

"No. There's not. Everyone wants to pretend there's this magic date or this magic number," he said. "We don't know that Gerrit Cole won't be a Super 2 a year from now. We don't know that. That's why we don't let it drive our decisions. If you did, and you're wrong, then you should've had the player up the whole time. …

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