CINCINNATI -- As sure as the Pirates knew Gregory Polanco would arrive this season, they knew this, too, would come: That first extended, bona fide slump, in which he looks reasonably overmatched.
Polanco was in his usual place Saturday night, atop the lineup and in right field. He has not, however, been in Clint Hurdle's "good place" for a week. Polanco had three hits in his last 24 at-bats; all three came against a fellow Dominican pitcher (Carlos Martinez) with whom he was familiar. Friday night, he endured his second three-strikeout game in his last five starts.
"He's not swinging the bat very well right now," Hurdle conceded. "The league is punching back. And he had it all figured out in the first 10 days, according to everything I read. Amazing, isn't it?"
The 3-for-24 lull swooned Polanco's average to .271. He has fanned 10 times in those 24 at-bats, getting him extra time in batting coach Jeff Branson's hothouse.
"We're trying to get him back to a solid foundation," said Hurdle, proceeding to list what that entails. "Stand up tall at the plate, not a big swing, play aggressive pepper -- hit the ball hard where it's pitched. He got away from all that a bit recently."
To his credit, Polanco has maintained a solid .363 on-base percentage, drawing walks and scoring runs during his quiet week.