By Chris Adamski
NORTH SHORE – Facing lefthanded starters on consecutive days likely would have signaled an ideal time for a Gregory Polanco day off, regardless.
Taking advantage of an opportunity to rest a balky left shoulder made the decision that much easier for Clint Hurdle.
“Just to get his shoulder a break,” the Pirates manager said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re going to get another lefty (Eduardo Rodriguez on Thursday in Boston), so it’s not so much that it’s a lefthander. It’s just the day; the day we chose.”
Polanco has hit .400 (6 for 15) in his past four games, reaching safely in all of them. He’s a .300 hitter at PNC Park since the start of last season. He’s a .202 career hitter against lefthanders, including 2 for 18 this season.
Adam Frazier is going to make his sixth start of the season (second in left along with two at second, one at third and one as the designated hitter).
Wednesday’s game is No. 6 in a stretch of 13 consecutive days with a game and 19 of 20 in which they play. Hurdle was asked if it’s already time to start picking spots to get players a day of rest.
“You know, we have continued to communicate with these guys on their thoughts and work with the training staff and the recovery program that we have in place,” Hurdle said. “We will see as we go on. Because I can sit here and tell you a plan – and then we play 14 innings today. So we have a mindset of what we want to do and how we’ll do it with certain individuals, and we will see how that plays out.
“But I do think the guys are fresh and they are ready to play and they are looking forward to getting into some routines.”
>>> Afternoon delights
Rare in the Major Leagues these days – even for the Cubs – is playing afternoon games on four consecutive days. But after Wednesday’s game, the Pirates head to Boston for a makeup game starting at 2:05 p.m., followed by Friday-Saturday-Sunday games at Wrigley Field all with a scheduled first pitch of 2:20 p.m. ET.
“Four straight days games,” Hurdle said, “that will be a routine in and of itself there.”
Hurdle was reminded that the Pirates recently went though a stretch in which they 27 day games (out of 28 total games) over a stretch of 30 days ending March 26 – in Florida during the first month of Grapefruit League play.
“We did that for a while,” Hurdle said, “so that one shouldn’t be too far to pull back from.”
At least losing balls in the new LED lighting won’t be a concern.
>>> You want links? I’ve got links:
“It’s not going our way right now with runners on base and in scoring position. But we’re going to fix it. We’re going to get there for sure.”
“Facing big league hitters, you can’t really conserve anything — especially when you’re trying to get big league hitters out with the stuff I have.”
The Pirates have reached the billionaires club.
>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None (due to conflict with Penguins playoff game). Radio: 93.7 FM.
Reds: Billy Hamilton 8, Jose Peraza 4, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Zach Cozart 6, Tucker Barnhart 2, LHP Amir Garrett (1-0, 0.00)
Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Bell 3, Josh Harrison 4, Adam Frazier 7, RHP Ivan Nova (1-0, 0.00)
Gamecast: In seven career starts at PNC Park, Nova has twice as many victories (four) as walked batters (two). Of course, that mirrors his production with the Pirates overall (six wins, three walks) since being acquired in an Aug. 1 trade. … Garrett, a former basketball player at St. John’s University, is making his second major-league start after pitching six shutout innings in his debut last week.
>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 2:05 p.m.. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 3.60)
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 7.20)
>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.55)
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 6.00)
>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00)
Cubs: RHP John Arrieta (2-0, 2.08)
>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 1.38)
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 1.64)
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.