Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Meadows off to historic start to MLB career

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- After Austin Meadows hit his fourth home run in his 11th game on Tuesday night, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle offered some advice for those following the start of Meadows' career.

"If you're not impressed by Meadows' at-bats," Hurdle said, "you need to go watch another sport right now."

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- After Austin Meadows hit his fourth home run in his 11th game on Tuesday night, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle offered some advice for those following the start of Meadows' career.

"If you're not impressed by Meadows' at-bats," Hurdle said, "you need to go watch another sport right now."

View Full Game Coverage

It's hard not to be impressed, and it's nearly impossible to keep Pittsburgh's sweet-swinging rookie out of the lineup. Meadows hit .439 with a 1.282 OPS, eight extra-base hits, seven RBIs, three steals and only three strikeouts in his first 11 games. He was in Wednesday's lineup at PNC Park, starting in center field and batting second.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Meadows is just the fifth player to debut in the expansion era (since 1961) and hit .400 with at least four home runs in his first 40 at-bats. The other four were Albert Pujols, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Giles and Yasiel Puig.

Three of Meadows' first four homers were against lefties. He saw 158 pitches in his first 11 games and only whiffed on eight of them. According to Statcast™, 43.6 percent of his balls in play qualified as "hard-hit."

"When he hits the ball, there's carry to it," Hurdle said.

The only stretch that might compare to this, Meadows said, is the 26-game hitting streak he put together for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2016.

"That's where I'm at right now. Just having a good rhythm, swinging at pitches, taking advantage of hitters' pitches," Meadows said. "That's the biggest thing for me, being aggressive and not taking pitches that I can hit."

Trainer's room
• Catcher Francisco Cervelli returned to Pittsburgh's lineup after missing three games due to flu-like symptoms.

• Lefty Enny Romero (shoulder impingement) will soon throw a bullpen session in Florida, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said. Right-hander A.J. Schugel (shoulder discomfort) is improving but not yet throwing after a platelet-rich plasma injection. Rule 5 Draft pick Nick Burdi (Tommy John surgery) is on track to pitch live batting practice and simulated games next month.

Ivan Nova (sprained right ring finger) is playing catch. Tomczyk said Nova will likely need to pitch in a sim game or rehab start before rejoining the Pirates' rotation. Pittsburgh has Nick Kingham, who started Tuesday in Nova's place, listed to pitch on Sunday in St. Louis.

Around the horn
Jung Ho Kang is ready to play consecutive games in his modified Spring Training program, Tomczyk said. Kang will play on back-to-back days followed by an off-day, then three straight extended spring games in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates have not set a timeline for Kang's Minor League assignment or his return to the Majors.

Gregory Polanco returned to the lineup after two days off. Polanco entered Wednesday's game in a 3-for-35 slump and without an RBI since May 15. Hurdle said the Bucs liked the matchup against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who had given up 10 hits and two homers in 25 at-bats against Polanco.

"He is aware of the challenges that he's gone through. He's verbalized them to me," Hurdle said. "It's now finding a method to fight back and get back to where he was in April -- a big man with a short swing -- which he's capable of doing."

• The Pirates promoted left-hander Brandon Waddell, their No. 26 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, from Double-A to Triple-A. Waddell, a fifth-round Draft pick in 2015, put together a 3.64 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while spending parts of the past three seasons in Altoona.

Waddell, who will turn 24 on Sunday, went 2-1 with a 2.68 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in nine games (eight starts) for Altoona this season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Austin Meadows