Polanco demoted to Indy
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates acknowledged the obvious Monday and sent struggling rookie Gregory Polanco back to the minor leagues.
Polanco, in a 1-for-30 slump, was sent to Class AAA Indianapolis and was replaced on the roster by Jose Tabata.
Polanco will stay with Indianapolis through the end of its season on Sept. 2, then return to the Pirates when the rosters expand for the last month of the season.
“The timing is off on his swing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ll give him the opportunity to get down, get some at-bats, get out of the spotlight that’s been here, find his way. I believe he will, and he’ll come back here and help this ball club in September in a very positive fashion.”
Polanco’s struggles have been ongoing, but they’ve become especially profound recently. He was out of the starting lineup for four straight games, then returned on Sunday in Milwaukee. He struck out in all three of his plate appearances and was removed for a pinch hitter the last time his spot came up.
Travis Snider has been starting ahead of Polanco.
“We looked at the at-bats for the last three weeks,” manager Clint Hurdle. “Snider’s emergence, he’s outplaying (Polanco). It’s an important time for the team.”
The Pirates opened a three-game series against St. Louis on Monday night, and have a weekend series at home against Cincinnati.
Tabata was hitting .289 for the Pirates when he was sent to Indianapolis on an outright assignment on June 24.
In 29 games at Class AAA, he batted .281. His offense had spiked recently, with a .433 average in the last eight games, and .355 over the last 16.
“He’s probably picked up a lot more traction offensively in the last three weeks to a month,” Hurdle said. “He went down there and worked and showed up.”
Polanco arrived with much fanfare on June 10 and batted safely in his first 11 games, posting a .365 average over that span.
Since then, though, he’s hit .208. In addition to the 1-for-30 streak, he’s struck out 11 times in his last 26 at-bats. He got the news from Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington on Sunday night.
“I think he was surprised to go down, but he was aware of what was going on, and the challenges that weren’t being met,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates have been generally disappointed in Tabata, who hasn’t developed the way the organization expected him to. He cleared waivers when he was outrighted because there is still $9.25 million remaining on his contract through 2016. He is being paid $3 million this season.
Hurdle pointed out that Tabata contributed last season when Starling Marte was injured late in the season. He hit .310 in August last year and .315 in September.
“He gave us a very good month of baseball,” Hurdle said. “Leading off and doing the things we’ve seen him do in the past.”
Said Tabata, “I’m very happy. Everybody wants to play in the big leagues. I’m here now.”
Clint Barmes came off the disabled list, where he had been since July 6 because of a left groin strain.
Barmes spent last week playing rehab games with the Curve and Indianapolis.
“It probably won’t be 100 percent for the rest of the year but that being said, I feel like I can play and do the things I need to do to do the job,” he said. “I’m very excited with how the rehab starts went and glad to be back.”
The Pirates opened a roster spot by designating infielder Jayson Nix for assignment.
Charlie Morton, on the disabled list with a sports hernia, is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Curve on Thursday.
He is expected to throw 75 pitches or five innings.