Polanco Ready To Fulfill His Potential

BRADENTON, Fla. — Gregory Polanco thought the best way to boost his power numbers was by bulking up his body.

The Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder quickly found out last year that was not the case. He said he “didn’t feel right” at the beginning of spring training and throughout the season following a winter of heavy weight training.

“I felt like I couldn’t move,” Polanco said.

Polanco wound up hitting .251 with 11 home runs in 108 games. He also spent three stints on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.

The Pirates’ training staff came up with a different workout plan for Polanco to follow this past offseason and he reported to spring training leaner and feeling more flexible.

“I lost some weight, so my hips and hands are faster,” Polanco said. “If your hands are slow, you get jammed a lot. That’s why I focused on that. That was my main focus, getting a strong core, lower body and legs so I can go quick, go fast.”

Polanco’s bat has looked quicker in his limited playing time so far this spring training. He homered in his first game and entered Monday 3 for 8 with a double.

“You’ve got to get the in the rhythm right from the start and I feel like I’m in a good rhythm,” Polanco said. “Hitting a home run on the first day was a good start. I just want to carry what I’m doing this spring into the season then all the way through the season.”

The 26-year-old is a .252 hitter with 66 home runs.

“He’s a guy that’s got a swing that will play,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Home runs are thrown more than they’re hit. As he continues to mature as a hitter, I think there’s situations he can hunt them. There’s power in the bat. If he’s on the field consistently, you’ll see more power.”

Polanco vows he will be on the field more often this year.

“I feel great,” he said. “As good as I’ve ever felt. I’m excited about what I can do this season.”

The Pirates need to fill the offensive void created when they traded five-time All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco.

“A lot of people said it is time for me to take charge,” Polanco said. “I use that to get better and show what I can do for the team and me, too. I know I can do more than I’ve done so far. It motivates me to work hard and be a better a player. I know my team needs me more than ever now and it’s time I start to be the type of player I know I can be.”

Gamel out, Mariners thin in outfield, Ichiro could return

The Seattle Mariners are running out of healthy outfielders. To the rescue — Ichiro?

Ben Gamel will miss opening day, the Mariners said Monday, because of a strained oblique muscle that’s expected to sideline him four to six weeks.

That could open a spot for Ichiro Suzuki, and a deal with the Mariners might be close.

Suzuki was the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year for Seattle in 2001 and remained a fan favorite until he was traded away in 2012. The 44-year-old Suzuki spent the past four seasons in Miami, batting .255 last year and starting 23 times in the outfield.

Gamel hit .275 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs in 134 games last year during his first full season in the majors.

The Mariners were hopeful Gamel would miss only a few days, but an MRI showed a more extensive problem. He first felt the injury after batting practice late last week.

Gamel joined a growing list of banged-up Mariners. Seattle has already seen first baseman Ryon Healy (hand), outfielder Mitch Haniger (hand) and pitcher Felix Hernandez (bruised forearm) slowed by injuries during spring training.

Outfielder Guillermo Heredia is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, leaving Seattle thin at the position.


Houston ace Dallas Keuchel was pulled in the second inning after giving up four hits. Lance McCullers worked 2 2/3 innings in relief, allowing a hit and walking two. Miami starter Dillon Peters gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings.


Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson worked three innings and gave up two hits, including a home run by Rhys Hoskins. Mark Leiter Jr. threw three clean innings in relief for Philadelphia, striking out a pair.


Atlanta starter Brandon McCarthy went 3 2/3 innings and the lone run he permitted came on a homer by Starling Marte. Danny Santana homered and had four hits for Atlanta. Chad Kuhl had a shaky start for Pittsburgh, giving up five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings.


Tanner Roark pitched four shutout innings for Washington, allowing one hit. Joaquin Benoit followed and had a rough outing, giving up two doubles and a single in one inning. Andrew Stevenson, a second-round pick by the Nationals in 2015 out of LSU, homered off starter Luke Weaver, who permitted three hits over three innings and struck out four.


New York starter Matt Harvey threw three shutout innings, allowing two hits. Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff home run, his second of the spring. Detroit starter Mike Fiers worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up two runs and two hits. Derek Norris doubled and singled, raising his batting average this spring to .556.


Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton sprinted to make a diving, backhanded catch in the gap to rob Shohei Ohtani of an extra-base hit. Ohtani went 0 for 3 as the Angels’ DH and is batting .143.


Yoan Moncada got two hits and scored three runs for Chicago. Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless inning. Jed Lowrie homered for Oakland. A’s reliever Santiago Casilla gave up five runs and got just two outs.


Rich Hill worked three innings of one-hit ball in the start, striking out four. Matt Kemp hit his third spring home run for Los Angeles and Yasmani Grandal hit his second. Yonder Alonso doubled twice for Cleveland. Andrew Miller threw a hitless inning of relief.


Matt Moore, acquired by the Rangers in a January trade with the Giants, gave up one hit in 2 2/3 innings against his former team. Adrian Beltre doubled and singled in his first two at-bats this spring. San Francisco starter Ty Blach worked 3 1/3 innings for the Giants, scattering five hits and allowing a run. Austin Jackson had a hit, walked and drove in a run.


Ian Happ hit his fourth spring homer, doubled and singled for Chicago and Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run. Kyle Hendricks struck out four in his three-inning start. Charlie Blackmon, batting third for Colorado, hit a home run.