Polanco's hamstring looks healed in return

Pirates will monitor right fielder's condition, training program

Polanco's hamstring looks healed in return

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco returned to right field Wednesday night, and the Reds didn't waste much time testing his recently healed hamstring.

Sidelined nine games by a strained left hamstring, Polanco had three balls hit in his direction during the third inning of the Pirates' 5-2 loss at PNC Park. The first fell in front of him for a single. He tracked down the second, a fly ball hit by Tucker Barnhart, then truly taxed his legs chasing down a line drive by Billy Hamilton.

With a runner on second and two outs in the third, Polanco charged in to snag Hamilton's fly ball to shallow right-center field. The long-striding lefty covered 63 feet in just four seconds, according to Statcast™. Evidently his legs held up well enough, as he was back in Pittsburgh's lineup Thursday night.

"You kind of go, 'Wow, that was fun to watch,'" manager Clint Hurdle said. "Then you're waiting for another one to see if he's able to respond for another one."

The play had only a 44 percent catch probability, according to Statcast™, making it a four-star play. Various injuries have limited Polanco to 74 starts in the outfield this season -- 47 in right field, 25 in left and two in center. Still, he leads the Pirates with four four-star plays and one five-star catch.

Polanco leads Pirates outfielders this year with 15 catches that graded out as three-, four- or five-star plays, according to Statcast™. Andrew McCutchen entered Thursday night with 14, Adam Frazier with eight, Starling Marte with five (despite his 80-game suspension) and John Jaso with three. Josh Harrison made one in his limited outfield playing time, while Jose Osuna is 0-for-19 on three- to five-star plays.

Given the number of injuries he's played through this season, the Pirates will closely monitor Polanco's level of fatigue and consider tweaking his offseason training program, as head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk has previously mentioned.

Hurdle said the Bucs have not established a schedule that would minimize Polanco's playing time. They have discussed different stretching, training and strengthening methods that could help keep his legs healthy for a full season.

"We've had a lot of conversation while he was out on what we need to look for," Hurdle said. "What we've been doing hasn't gotten us to the point we need to get to help him stay on the field."

Around the horn

• Harrison was out of the lineup for the third straight game due to lower left leg discomfort. Harrison pinch-hit on Wednesday night. Catcher Francisco Cervelli did not start for the second straight day, though no explanation was provided for his absence. Cervelli is 2-for-27 with a .212 OPS and 10 strikeouts over his last eight games.

• Outfielder Jordan Luplow, optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, reported to the club Thursday. The Bucs also traded Triple-A outfielder Eury Perez, a non-roster invitee this spring, to the Marlins.

• Infielder Oneil Cruz and right-hander Angel German, the prospects acquired for left-hander Tony Watson, reported on Thursday to Class A West Virginia.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.