Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle refuses to spend his All-Star break conducting a big-picture midseason evaluation.
“I’ll unplug the whole time,” he said of the three-day break.
But that doesn’t mean an all-encompassing look at his team isn’t being done. It’s just taking place a little earlier.
“The 50,000-foot evaluation is going on right now,” Hurdle said before Thursday’s game. “We have done an analytical review already. We have done a statistical review already.
“And our coaches are making notes on one thing independently: one thing they like going on in their area, one thing we want to improve on in the second half. So, yeah, we are already in-tuned.”
Hurdle said he encourages everyone in the organization to join him in taking a step back away from baseball and recharging during the All-Star break.
Josh Bell is playing in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cleveland.
Polanco will be welcomed
Staring Marte (.798 season OPS), Corey Dickerson (.816), Bryan Reynolds (.941) and Melky Cabrera (.801) combine to form one of the National League’s best quartets of outfielders.
But there’s still room for another quality player.
Gregory Polanco was scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. Polanco, on the injured list since June 22 because of left-shoulder inflammation related to the surgery he had late last fall, is expected to play in the minors this weekend and again next weekend after the break.
If Hurdle is worried about managing playing time for five starting-caliber outfielders, he isn’t showing it.
“It’s another good player,” Hurdle said of Polanco. “When he’s on top of his game, he’s a good player.
“There was a stretch last season offensively where he was a run-producer. … It had been one of the best run-producing runs we have had anybody on in terms of scoring runs and driving in runs in the middle of lineup. (And) he’s been consistent on defense, dependable in the outfield.”
Between June 17 and Aug. 3 last season, Polanco had 30 RBIs and 27 runs with a 1.129 OPS in 38 games.
Hurdle has taken an affection to his team’s enthusiasm. He spoke Thursday about the clubhouse mood featuring “a lot of hooting and hollering” after recent wins.
“That’s one of the things I enjoy about our club, the celebrations they have for one another. And for themselves.”
Hurdle said he urged his coaches to take a moment to step back and enjoy the enthusiasm.
“‘Just listen. Just stop what you’re doing and listen,’” Hurdle said of his message to coaches, “‘because there will be a day you’re home, and you’re not going to hear this ever again.’ And it’s pretty cool. It’s one if the things I enjoy about our guys.”