"I don't think there is any doubt that he is mentally strong enough," manager Clint Hurdle said about Polanco's ability to get over a couple of misadventures in right field. "He's going to have to be."
On April 9, in the season's third game, with Reds players on first and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie, Polanco charged in for a liner by Marlon Byrd and let it clang off his glove for a game-ending error.
On Friday, Polanco was about to glove a short fly by Cubs left fielder Matt Szczur with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 12th when ... he just "folded."
"It looked to me like he got to the ball without a problem. He didn't have far to go," Hurdle said. "Then he made a little move to his left, crossed his feet and it took him out of the play, down to the ground."
Amazingly, up to that point, everyone in Wrigley Field thought they were seeing a spot-on reenactment of the 10th inning.
Like the 10th, Starlin Castro reached with one out, Miguel Montero singled him to third, Jorge Soler was intentionally walked to load the bases, the Bucs went to a five-man infield and Szczur lifted his pop fly to the identical spot.
Only difference, and a big one: In the 10th, Polanco had caught the fly on the run, and his throw to catcher Francisco Cervelli had Castro out by 20 feet. In the 12th, he never got to make a throw.
"[This game] is going to humble you," Hurdle said. "You've got to keep playing, play through it. You learn from experiences that come with it. And I believe he will.
"This is a smart kid, a strong kid. He's going to have every opportunity for this to make him better."