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Slumping Polanco sits with Bucs facing lefty

Slumping Polanco sits with Bucs facing lefty

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco's slump finally reached the Pirates' bench Monday night.

With the Bucs going up against Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, Polanco was absent from the lineup after he had gone 0-for-10 in the previous two games, started by Colorado southpaws Brett Anderson and Tyler Matzek.

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With Pedro Alvarez also rested and Josh Harrison moving in at third base, Michael Martinez got the call in right field. This was only the third start missed by Polanco in the 34 games since his June 10 promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis.

"He's been challenged with some left-handed [breaking pitches], some right-handed spins, so you find times [to sit him] down. He just faced a couple of left-handers," said manager Clint Hurdle, anticipating Polanco back in there for the final two games of this series, with righties Josh Beckett and Dan Haren lined up for Los Angeles.

The quiet weekend dropped Polanco's average vs. lefties to .143 (6-for-42). Trouble handling same-side pitchers hasn't been part of his profile; in Indianapolis, he hit .338 vs. southpaws, compared to .350 off right-handers. However, the Pirates have faced more lefties recently, and the production against them is merely part of Polanco's overall struggles.

Since the end of his celebrated career-opening 11-game hitting streak, the young outfielder is 16-for-90 (.178), dropping his overall average from .365 to .246. The last two weeks, he has hit .125 (6-for-48) with 15 strikeouts, nearly one-half of his total of 32 whiffs.

"I do have a tendency to pay more attention to people's body language when things are going rough than when they're going good," Hurdle said. "He continues to play, he continues to fight, he continues to battle. This wasn't unexpected from us by any means. We just got to keep working with him and keep reminding him that this is the Major Leagues. You're not going up from here."

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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