Current Pirates need to step up

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates are struggling to score runs, and prospect Gregory Polanco is tearing things up at Class AAA.

There’s a good chance Polanco will make it up to Pittsburgh in June, after he gets some more experience and his service time issues are resolved.

In the meantime, is it possible to expect more from the players who are currently with the team?

This is basically the same lineup the Pirates had last year when they won 94 games and reached the postseason. The biggest change is at first base, where Ike Davis has replaced Garrett Jones as the left-handed part of the platoon. That’s probably an upgrade, and certainly no worse than a wash.

So instead of casting eyes toward Indianapolis as a solution, how about if we focus on Pittsburgh and start expecting more from players who are already earning major league wages?

Starling Marte has been striking out too much. Jordy Mercer is making liars of the people who said anyone would be a better shortstop option than Clint Barmes.

Pedro Alvarez has to make more contact and show that he can handle the clean-up spot.

There’s a theory that Andrew McCutchen is seeing fewer good pitches to hit because there’s no protection in the lineup. It’s not like McCutchen hasn’t been known to opponents. Some of his 2012 numbers were better than the ones he posted last season en route to the Most Valuable Player award.

McCutchen isn’t taking anyone by surprise. He’s been the Pirates’ most dangerous hitter for at least three years. If teams are just catching on to that, shame on them.

Even when Polanco gets here, there’s no guarantee he’ll put up the numbers he has in the minor leagues.

The solution for the Pirates is for the holdover players to get better. They have experience in the major leagues that Polanco doesn’t.

Heading west

Congratulations to Jory Rand, who will be leaving KDKA-TV in June to become a weekend news anchor and reporter at KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Pittsburgh used to be the No. 9 broadcast market. Now it’s TV market No. 23, which means it has become a stepping stone for a lot of people. Rand is taking an impressive step.

Even though Nightly Sports Call co-host Ron Cook never quite mastered the pronunciation of “Jory,” Rand made his mark. He will be missed by the legion of prank callers who practice their craft on the no-budget nightly 10:35 pm. show. Rand has been a regular target ever since he came to town more than six years ago after John Steigerwald had finally grumped his way off the air.

Rand also made himself a lightning rod at the otherwise-sleepy weekly Mike Tomlin press conferences. Rand’s questions always got a rise out of the Steelers coach, who is otherwise committed to showing as little candor and emotion as possible. Of course, the questions haven’t always gotten answers, but that’s OK.

Tense situation

When the Penguins are faced with adversity, there’s always one burning question:

How is Dan Potash handling the stress?

Mehno can be reached at