Pirates’ Hurdle likes juggling five outfielders
Clint Hurdle has five outfielders on his roster, which is one more than he usually needs.
It’s a nice problem — and it could come in handy at trade deadline time — but the Pittsburgh Pirates manager said he solves it by “feel” and “conversation.”
But there are constants that he can’t ignore.
“It’s hard to sit (Bryan) Reynolds (who was hitting .361 before Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers),” he said. “It’s hard to sit (Starling) Marte (one of the National League’s best defensive centerfielders, who was hitting .287).”
Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera, who started in right field Tuesday ahead of Gregory Polanco, was hitting .330 and left fielder Corey Dickerson is healthy now after a two-month stay on the injured list.
“Cabrera is a guy you could probably get a day down or two days down and still use off the bench,” Hurdle said. “But he needs to play as well. He’s earned that opportunity, No. 1, and it helps him stay sharp coming off the bench, No. 2.
“Polanco is working right now to find more consistency in his swing. There has been a lot of swing-and-miss the last 105, 110 at-bats.”
Polanco, who came off the injured list less than seven months after shoulder surgery, has struck out 49 times in 167 plate appearances.
“More often than not, you’re carrying four (outfielders),” he said. “We happen to be carrying five now based on the off days. “We’ll see how much longer that can continue. I’d love for it to continue all through the season because that means our starting pitching is strong and the bullpen is able to carry the load they’ve been asked to carry.”
Hurdle likes the current roster construction for another reason:
The Pirates were averaging 5.5 runs per game in the 15 games before Tuesday. Through the season’s first 27 games, they were averaging 3.3.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .