PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates scratched Gregory Polanco from the starting lineup Saturday night against the Reds due to right foot discomfort. Polanco fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning of Pittsburgh's 14-3 win over Cincinnati on Friday night at PNC Park, and the pain evidently lingered a
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates scratched Gregory Polanco from the starting lineup Saturday night against the Reds due to right foot discomfort. Polanco fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning of Pittsburgh's 14-3 win over Cincinnati on Friday night at PNC Park, and the pain evidently lingered a day later. His status is day-to-day, the Pirates announced.
Polanco did not play in the Pirates' 7-4 loss to the Reds. Manager Clint Hurdle said plainly, "He was not able to start tonight."
Polanco is off to a hot start this season, as he entered Saturday leading the Majors with 11 RBIs while slashing .280/.441/.680 with two homers and more walks (eight) than strikeouts (six). The biggest reason for his comfort at the plate, he has said, is good health.
Leading off the third inning Friday night, Polanco worked a full count against Reds right-hander Luis Castillo. Polanco fouled a 95.9-mph fastball directly into his right foot and hopped around in front of the plate, clearly in pain. Polanco remained in the game, however, and played all nine innings.
With Polanco out of the lineup on Saturday, the Bucs substituted in Adam Frazier. The lefty-hitting super-utility man assumed Polanco's second spot in the order and started in right field. This is Frazier's third start of the season and his first in the field; he was the Bucs' designated hitter and leadoff man for Opening Day and the second game of the year in Detroit.
If Polanco is unavailable for long, the Pirates will be another man short on an already-short bench. Pittsburgh elected to begin the season with an eight-man bullpen and four reserve hitters: Frazier, Sean Rodriguez, David Freese and Elias Diaz, who started behind the plate on Saturday.
"When everything's going smooth, it's not a big deal. However, when one guy gets dinged up and you can't play for a day or two, it really complicates things," manager Clint Hurdle said Saturday afternoon. "You probably don't have four days to nurse a guy through an injury like you did with a five-man bench. … It's tough to play with three men on the bench in a National League game when one of them's a catcher, very tough."
Brault to start Wednesday
Left-hander Steven Brault will make at least one more start, as he's lined up to face the Cubs on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. Brault came out of the bullpen to start against the Reds on Thursday and held Cincinnati to one run on three hits and four walks while striking out four in five innings.
The Pirates could have skipped Brault's turn in the rotation after Tuesday's off-day in Chicago, but they decided to keep Brault in the mix and have Trevor Williams start Thursday on five days' rest. Brault's spot was designated for right-hander Joe Musgrove, who remains on the 10-day disabled list with a muscle strain in his shoulder. Musgrove has not yet resumed throwing.
"Steven's in line. Steven pitched well. Steven competed. I think he'll have more confidence the next time out," Hurdle said. "I look forward to watching him pitch again. This is the guy that we believe is going to be a starter. Right now, he's got the opportunity to do it."
There's no question Brault would like to be a long-term starter, even after opening the season in the bullpen.
"It's definitely something that fits my repertoire and my mentality. It's something I want to establish myself in a starting rotation, and I would love it to be here now," Brault said Thursday night. "Obviously, that's not really how it works. All clichés aside, yes, I would love to be a starter."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.