Francisco Cervelli exits game, Gregory Polanco likely DL-bound for hurting Pirates
TORONTO — When the Pirates begin a pivotal run of games against NL Central foes Tuesday, they likely will be without Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli.
Polanco almost certainly is headed to the 10-day disabled list after injuring his hamstring Saturday.
Cervelli might not go on the DL, but he will need some time to overcome a lingering hand injury that forced him out of Sunday's 7-1 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Pirates have not yet updated the status of either player. After an off day Monday, the team will begin a stretch in which it will play 34 of 38 games against NL Central clubs.
Polanco suffered his injury while chasing a bloop single in the fifth inning Saturday and immediately limped off the field.
Manager Clint Hurdle claimed he did not know before or even during Sunday's game if Polanco was available as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.
"You'll never know," Hurdle said. "I never asked, so I'll never know."
Polanco knew the answer to Hurdle's unasked question.
"For sure, I cannot play," Polanco said. "(Saturday) was the worst that I've felt. It was the same area. This time, it just felt a little … harder."
This is his third major hamstring injury this season. The previous two sent him to the DL.
Trying to stem the frequency of Polanco's hamstring injuries, the athletic training staff has focused on his conditioning and maintenance programs.
"It's like, what else do I have to do?" Polanco said. "I've been doing the treatments, everything they've asked me to do. I drink a lot of water, stretching, everything. It's frustrating for me."
Polanco did not go on a minor league rehab assignment after either of his first two DL stints this year. After his most recent injury, Polanco admitted he healed and got back in action quicker than he expected.
"I guess we've got to do something different," Polanco said. "What else are they going to change? I stretch and I do everything that I have to do."
Polanco said he does not need to return to Pittsburgh to be examined and instead will go with the team to Milwaukee.
Cervelli took himself out of Sunday's game after the top of the seventh inning. He said his hand has been bothering him "not too long, but quite a bit."
Some of his pain is due to the surgery he had last summer to remove a broken hamate bone. On Aug. 5, Cervelli he absorbed a hard blow from Yangervis Solarte's backswing in the seventh inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park.
"I cannot hit 100 percent, and every time I swing, it is painful," Cervelli said. "Even catching low balls is painful. I'm not helping the team the way I'm supposed to."
So far, Cervelli has resisted the notion of going on the DL and has been trying to manage the pain day to day.
"I've been focusing on winning the division," Cervelli said. "I want to win. That's why, in my mind, I cannot step away. I've got to keep going.
"Eventually, it's going to get better, I think. Hopefully, soon. I'm giving everything I've got, every night, to help the team win. I feel I need to help the team more offensively, because it's been terrible."
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.