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Pirates notebook: Polanco says demotion to Indianapolis helped

| Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, 4:33 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Pirates' Gregory Polanco talks with third-base coach Nick Leyva during a game against the San Diego Padres in August at PNC Park.

ST. LOUIS — After spending a week back at Triple-A Indianapolis, Gregory Polanco believes he is ready for the Pirates' stretch run.

“It helped me,” Polanco said after being recalled Tuesday. “I came back stronger and ready to play. I learned I don't have to do too much. I just have to be myself and keep playing.”

Polanco had a hot start after his June 10 debut but was hitting just .241 with a .647 OPS when he was demoted. In seven games with Indy, Polanco went 4 for 26 with four walks, five strikeouts and a .154 slugging percentage.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Polanco's mechanics were fine but his timing was out of whack.

“When your timing is off, it can look like your mechanics are bad,” Hurdle said. “But if you can reset your timing, get your foot down on time, your hands are set over your back foot and you're short to the ball, a lot of good things can happen.”

Neither Polanco nor Travis Snider, who has a sore hamstring, was in the lineup Tuesday against the Cardinals. Andrew Lambo, who hit safely in each of his first four games since being called up, started in right field.

“You need to watch it play out,” Hurdle said. “We're going to pick some spots. I'd like to get (Polanco) in play. We've seen him good. When he's on, we're a better team. I like the at-bats Lambo's giving us right now. So, we'll probably work early matchups and see if one of them can get some hot traction and go.”

Relievers, d'Arnaud added

To bolster the bullpen, the Pirates called up right-handers Casey Sadler and John Holdzkom and lefty Bobby LaFramboise.

LaFramboise, 28, made 10 relief outings for the Mariners in 2013. This year, he went to spring training camp with Seattle, then was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres on April 2.

After making 58 appearances with Triple-A El Paso, LaFramboise was waived again and claimed by the Pirates. He tossed four scoreless innings with Indianapolis.

Sadler is making his fourth stint with the Pirates this year. In 21 starts with Indy, he went 11-4 with a 3.03 ERA and had the second-best WHIP (1.19) in the International League.

Holdzkom was signed out of the independent American Association on June 23. He has no major league experience.

The Pirates also selected the contract of Chase d'Arnaud, who will add speed off the bench. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, utilityman Michael Martinez was designated for assignment.

Morton throws simulated game

There are no immediate plans to put right-hander Charlie Morton (sports hernia) back in the starting rotation.

“We're not ready to do that now,” Hurdle said. “We're trying to keep his arm live and see where his physicality will go. He pitched (Tuesday) and physically he felt the same.”

Morton threw four innings (76 pitches) in a simulated game. Hurdle said Morton likely will throw a side session either Thursday or Friday in Chicago, then another sim game Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Fastball + Cutch = boom!

Although he's constantly bothered by aching ribs, and will be the rest of the season, Andrew McCutchen resists taking a day off in the midst of a pennant chase.

“If I can swing, I can play,” McCutchen insisted.

In the seventh inning Monday, McCutchen hit a towering solo homer — a 454-foot shot that was the longest of his career — off reliever Kevin Siegrist. It was the fifth-longest homer at Busch Stadium, the second longest by a visiting player.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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