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Pirates shuffling OF spots with Polanco out

MLB.com

DENVER -- Gregory Polanco's hamstring injury is giving a few Pirates the opportunity for more consistent playing time in the outfield.

Polanco strained his left hamstring in Friday's opening game against the Rockies and was replaced by John Jaso. On Saturday, the left-handed hitting Jaso was again in the starting lineup vs. righty pitcher German Marquez, but righty Jose Osuna started Sunday against Rockies' left-hander Kyle Freeland.

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DENVER -- Gregory Polanco's hamstring injury is giving a few Pirates the opportunity for more consistent playing time in the outfield.

Polanco strained his left hamstring in Friday's opening game against the Rockies and was replaced by John Jaso. On Saturday, the left-handed hitting Jaso was again in the starting lineup vs. righty pitcher German Marquez, but righty Jose Osuna started Sunday against Rockies' left-hander Kyle Freeland.

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Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates aren't going with a straight platoon, rather are trying to get as many people as much playing time as possible.

"It'll be matchup by matchup because I'm probably gonna look for an opportunity to get [Adam] Frazier to play, if that happens to be in right field or second base, so be it, or left field," Hurdle said. "So we're kinda spitballing that one."

Over the course of his nine-year career, Jaso is hitting .271 against righties compared to .170 against lefties. Only two of Jaso's 52 career home runs came facing lefties. Osuna's splits are more even, as he's hit .263 vs. lefties and .231 vs. righties.

With Polanco on the DL, the team has a four-man bench as they recalled pitcher Steven Brault on Saturday. Hurdle said he doesn't know how long the Pirates will stick with the short bench.

"I think we need to play it out," Hurdle said. "If we can continue to get this work out of the starting pitching the added arm to the bullpen makes sense."

In their upcoming series with the Giants, the Pirates will only face one lefty, but it's ace Madison Bumgarner. Against the Padres the following series, left-handed starter Clayton Richard is currently lined up to start next Saturday barring injuries.

Worth noting

Brault gave up two runs in an inning during Saturday's 7-3 loss, but Hurdle was pleased with the things he did well. Specifically, Hurdle saw positive things when he retired Rockies sluggers Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

"We brought him up to pitch out of the bullpen, asking him to do something he's never done," Hurdle said. "Get him in there, plus it's his day to pitch, the guy had pitched lights out at Triple-A. To make him sit and pitch longer. It's a normal Triple-A travel day. No big deal for him to get on a plane and go somewhere to pitch."

In 18 games with Triple-A Indianapolis, Brault pitched to a 2.06 ERA and struck out 95 batters in 100 1/3 innings.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Gregory Polanco