Just days after return, Marte in midseason form

July 22nd, 2017

DENVER -- dribbled a ninth-inning fastball from Greg Holland just past the pitcher's mound. Using his signature speed, he sprinted down the line, earning the infield hit without a throw.
With the bases loaded, Marte had his third hit of the night, driving in the Pirates' final run in a 7-3 loss to the Rockies. Marte has played only five games since being reinstated from an 80-game PED suspension, but he has seemed to find a rhythm already, hitting .292 with three stolen bases and six runs.
Marte said he has taken his return one at-bat at a time.
"Just keep swinging. Stay focused in the game," Marte said. "Sometimes you need to take a page from the rotation and get ready early, but at the same time, I've been working to prepare and get ready for the game."
Marte made sure to keep his legs in shape while on the sidelines, he said, given that stealing bases is a big part of his game from the leadoff spot. Since his rookie year in 2012, Marte has swiped 165 bases, and he stole at least 30 each from 2013 to 2016.
That speed will need to hoist the Pirates with suffering a left hamstring strain in Friday's series-opening win. It's unclear how long Polanco will be out -- he was placed on the disabled list Saturday -- but he missed time earlier this season due to a left hamstring injury.
Although Marte has historically hit extremely well at Coors Field -- through Saturday, he owns a cartoonish .540/.589/.720 slash line in Colorado -- manager Clint Hurdle said he sees Marte acclimating well after his time off.
"He's gonna find ways to get hits because of the speed," Hurdle said, "Every time he hits one of those balls in the infield, people say that's lucky. Well, he hit 33 of them or something when he plays a full season.
"You saw some good swings tonight. You saw him squaring some balls up, and he seemed to be showing better balance at the plate, better timing."