We’re a smidge late on this one, as he’s already in action tonight, but it’s nevertheless worth highlighting that the Pirates have activated outfielder Gregory Polanco. To create active roster space, the club optioned Steven Brault.
When Polanco underwent surgery late last season with a torn shoulder labrum, it wasn’t entirely clear how long he’d be out. Indeed, that’s the sort of injury that can hamper a player even when he is back on the field.
As it turns out, Polanco was able to return to the majors at the early end of the estimates. (And he’s two-for-three with a walk already this evening.) That’s great news for his long-term outlook; clearly, he healed quickly and did not experience any setbacks or new issues during his rehab work.
It’s also critically important for the Bucs’ 2019 hopes. With Starling Marte now sidelined indefinitely, joining Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall on the injured list, the outfield was badly in need of reinforcement.
The 27-year-old Polanco had an up-and-down showing in 2018, but ended the campaign with a career-best .254/.340/.499 slash and 23 long balls over 535 plate appearances. That’s the sort of output the Pittsburgh organization had long hoped to receive. Whether Polanco can pick up where he left off will have significant bearing on the Pirates’ ability to maintain a narrow early lead in a hotly contested NL Central.
As for Brault, he has been utilized mostly in a relief capacity of late but will be stretched out at Triple-A, manager Clint Hurdle told reporters including Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 26-year-old hadn’t been used much at all in the early going. He is now sitting on 1.110 years of MLB service, meaning that he still needs 62 more days of MLB action this year to enter a new service class by season’s end.