Pirates place Polanco on IL, call up Owen

May 5th, 2021

The Pirates placed Gregory Polanco on the injured list ahead of Tuesday's game against the Padres.

Infielder/outfielder Hunter Owen, who was on the taxi squad for the road trip, was added to the Major League roster and was active for Tuesday’s contest. There was no corresponding move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, and Polanco was not given a designation for his stint on the IL.

“He’s on the IL,” manager Derek Shelton said. “That’s all we’ve got.”

Polanco played right field for Pittsburgh in Monday’s 2-0 loss at San Diego, going 0-for-3 with a walk and recording his fourth stolen base of the season.

Owen was a late addition to the Pirates’ list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training, where the 27-year-old went 3-for-17 with a homer and two walks. He had a .935 OPS in 68 games for Double-A Altoona in 2019, when he smashed 15 homers.

Owen was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday, but Shelton said he was active for the game. The versatile Owen will be making his Major League debut if he enters a game.

“I think one of the coolest parts of my job is being able to tell guys that they’re a big leaguer for the first time,” Shelton said. “It was obviously a really special moment for him, but any time you get to do that, it’s pretty cool.”

Hayes update
Pirates assistant hitting coach Christian Marrero said that Ke’Bryan Hayes took swings in the batting cage in San Diego on Tuesday. Shelton added that Hayes took both soft-toss and overhand pitches.

“He looks pretty good swinging the bat,” Marrero said. “He has some intensity behind his swing, and he said he felt great.”

With the Minor League season underway, the Pirates are considering a rehab stint for Hayes, who has not played in a game since April 3 due to left wrist discomfort.

“We have not fully put that into play of what the plan will be,” Shelton said of Hayes’ potential return. “.... We’re kind of taking it step by step. [Rehab games] definitely could be a factor, and it’s a really positive factor for us now that guys will get actual game action.”

Prospect notes
• Right-hander Roansy Contreras had a debut for the Pirates' organization to remember. In his first Double-A start, Contreras set a career high in strikeouts with 11 over five scoreless innings for Altoona. The Pirates’ No. 20 prospect per MLB Pipeline allowed five hits and got MLB's No. 2 overall prospect, Adley Rutschman, to strike out swinging on a breaking ball for his record-setting strikeout.

“I saw Contreras’ start -- or the start of his start,” Shelton said. “That excites me.”

Contreras pitched only two innings in Spring Training, but those were enough to draw great reviews from his teammates and the coaching staff. He sits in the mid-to-high 90s with his fastball and has a sharp 12-to-6 curveball that keeps hitters off-balance.

• The Pirates were aggressive with one of their top prospects, sending outfielder Travis Swaggerty (No. 9) from High-A in 2019, straight to Triple-A Indianapolis this season. In his first at-bat, Swaggerty, who was batting leadoff, sent a 1-1 pitch from Iowa starter Joe Biagini over the right-field wall for his first Triple-A homer.

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said that in conversations between him, director of coaching and player development John Baker and coaches at the alternate training site, they all agreed that Swaggerty was one of the most impressive performers.

“He's been one of our most consistent hitters in that group, in terms of the at-bats he's had in the alt-site games in April,” Cherington said. “Hitting the ball hard, playing good defense. So we feel like he's ready to take the challenge of playing Triple-A, and we’re excited to see him do that.”

• Right-hander Quinn Priester (Pittsburgh's No. 3, MLB's No. 43), went three innings in his High-A debut, allowing six runs (three earned) for Greensboro. Priester, who has been a quick riser in prospect rankings, struck out three and walked two.