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Polanco adjusting to second DL stint

Outfielder progressing, but may need more time before returning
MLB.com

The Pirates are searching for silver linings following Gregory Polanco's second trip to the disabled list this season. The bright side? The long-limbed 25-year-old is becoming more aware of his physical limits, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said, and he's learning how to handle life on the DL.

"Fortunately and unfortunately, he's had some experience along these lines -- getting on the DL and coming off the DL, working his way back," manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday at AT&T Park. "He's in good spirits."

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The Pirates are searching for silver linings following Gregory Polanco's second trip to the disabled list this season. The bright side? The long-limbed 25-year-old is becoming more aware of his physical limits, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said, and he's learning how to handle life on the DL.

"Fortunately and unfortunately, he's had some experience along these lines -- getting on the DL and coming off the DL, working his way back," manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday at AT&T Park. "He's in good spirits."

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Polanco was placed on the 10-day DL Saturday with a strained left hamstring. He's been bumped and bruised for the better part of the season, battling injuries to his shoulder, groin, hamstring and ankle. Polanco is eligible to return Tuesday, but it seems unlikely he will be ready by then.

Polanco is hitting on the field and playing catch, Tomczyk said Wednesday morning. His conditioning is currently limited to stationary bike exercises, but he has not yet resumed running.

"He's learning what he can and cannot play through and push through. With that, you only know until you experience it," Tomczyk said. "He wanted to continue to play and push through it. We decided to take a little pause and hopefully get him back out there sooner than later."

The timing is less than ideal for Polanco and the Pirates, as they were both playing well when he sustained the injury. Polanco was hitting .387 with a 1.035 OPS in July, by far his best stretch of the season, and his last game was the Bucs' sixth straight win.

"He was playing his best baseball all across the board when he went down this time," Hurdle said. "Get him healthy, he'll be a welcome addition back on the club."

Polanco missed 10 days in May due to a left hamstring strain. Following a recurrence of the same injury two months later, the club will look into his training program.

"This is a two-step process," Tomczyk said. "First goal is to get him back playing, hopefully sooner than later, get him for the stretch run. Then we can address the offseason issues in the offseason."

The same could be said for top Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, who remains on the seven-day Minor League disabled list with a right hamstring strain. The 22-year-old outfielder has not played for Triple-A Indianapolis since June 21. Meadows is currently in Bradenton, Fla., participating in baseball activities, but Tomczyk said Meadows is "projected to begin games next week."

Like Polanco, Meadows has dealt with hamstring issues in the past.

"They want to get out there. They want to play. They don't want to be injured," Tomczyk said. "They don't want to continue to have to go in the training room. We, as a performance team, need to figure out different ways to train them, to prevent these injuries. It's on us as a performance team just as much as it is [on] the player."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Gregory Polanco