Depth could allow Pirates to give McCutchen extra rest

Depth could allow Pirates to give McCutchen extra rest

SAN DIEGO -- Gregory Polanco, as has been known all along, will go to Pirate City in two months as the starter in right as the Bucs' Dream Outfield comes into focus.

"Entering Spring Training, it's Polanco's job to keep," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Tuesday.

So Travis Snider -- when Polanco faltered, Snider batted .273 with an .817 OPS the last two months -- gets back his job as a busy fourth outfielder. And it will also get Andrew McCutchen some rest.

Since arriving from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 4, 2009, to take over as the Bucs' center fielder, McCutchen has played in 880 of a possible 919 games. Practically all of his 39 misses were due to injury, most serious of them the rib fracture that led to his first disabled-list stint this August.

Snider's presence as a solid option and Starling Marte's play in center during McCutchen's absence may lead to manager Clint Hurdle giving McCutchen occasional games off just for the sake of rest.

"There may be times when it is intelligent for us to give Cutch some proactive time off, so he doesn't run the risk of getting rundown," Huntington said. "We'll see. But if all five [outfielders, Andrew Lambo being the fifth] stay healthy, we'll probably be more proactive in giving Andrew a day here and there."

On that point, Huntington wished Hurdle an early, "Good luck with that."

"It's an awful battle to get him out of the lineup. He never wants to come out. Andrew loves to play, and to do everything in his power to help this team win every single night," Huntington said. "He and Clint have a great relationship. If Andrew needs a day, he lets him know -- he just doesn't do it very often."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.