PITTSBURGH -- As if there was a need to further call attention to Gregory Polanco's unique talents and unlimited potential, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle inadvertently provided it when he posted his lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Cubs.
Pedro Alvarez, the reigning co-home run king of the National League, was not in it because a left-hander, Travis Wood, was pitching for Chicago.
However, not only was Polanco, who also hits from the left side, in the lineup, he was in the key No. 2 spot in the order -- behind Josh Harrison and ahead of Andrew McCutchen. The rookie ended up going 1-for-5 with a single in his second MLB at-bat in the 7-3 loss to the Cubs.
"Alvarez has had a tough going against this pitcher," Hurdle said of his third baseman, 1-for-18 with seven strikeouts against Wood. "Having Polanco in the two-hole just looked right.
"His mindset at the plate ... he has always demonstrated the stubborn approach to stay inside the ball and focus on [hitting it to] left-center field, so he might be more comfortable than other people with the angle from a left-hander," Hurdle said. "From all the reports I've gotten, there is not a lot of give in his swing against a left-handed pitcher."
Polanco thus inherited the normal lineup home of Neil Walker, whose placement on the DL following an appendectomy created a roster spot and need for him. Walker is tied for the team lead both with 11 homers and 35 RBIs.
"With Walker's absence," Hurdle said, "we're looking for some offense to supplement what's been taken away. You got a guy [Polanco] who hits the ball, has discipline at the plate, runs, and has been an on-base percentage guy throughout his career."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.