The Times West Virginian

Sports

June 10, 2014

COLUMN: Pittsburgh makes right move with prospect

It’s about time the Pittsburgh Pirates called up highly touted rookie Gregory Polanco.

The Pirates left 10 baserunners stranded Sunday in dropping a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Milwaukee Brewers after making five errors the previous day in a 9-3 setback to the same ballclub. The Pirates desperately need another big bat in the lineup and Polanco would seem to be that “bat.”

That 1-0 game wasn’t the only very tough loss for the Pirates in the past several days. Don’t forget that the Padres collected only one hit off Pirates pitching last Wednesday but San Diego still won the game. ...General manager Neal Huntington said Sunday that his organization likes to give young players “a lot of at bats in Triple-A,” but that Polanco's performance is shortening that time frame a little bit. ...Pirates fans shouldn’t expect Polanco to step right up and become an instant hero — leading by both his batting and his defense. But at least the ballclub will be throwing their best talent at the opposition and not have potentially one of their best hitters playing for the Indianapolis Indians this year ...

The reason the Bucs kept Polanco “down on the farm” is no real secret. It’s all about money. And we have never learned when that deadline might be. That’s what Huntington has wanted to do, although that part of the Polanco story is not getting much publicity. ...Huntington suggested that the team would like to bat Polanco down in the order now that he has been called up rather than place him in a "less demanding ... less high-leverage hole." ...

Jeff Locke’s 1-0 loss was tough to take as the Pirates had baserunners throughout the game. And they received no favors at all from the home plate umpire, who was a thorn in their side all afternoon. Locke has been at Indianapolis nearly all season, where he had posted a 3-1 record. He pitched some outstanding ball for the Pirates during the first half of the 2013 season but faltered badly during the second half of the campaign.

Stevie Browning’s exit from the Fairmont State basketball program gives coach Jerrod Calhoun another position to attempt to fill when November rolls around. We’ve heard reports that Browning may wind up at Marshall, although he will have to sit out next season. ...We were surprised to hear that Eron Harris, late of the West Virginia basketball team, may wind up at Michigan State in college basketball’s continual game of musical chairs...Ron “Catbird” Whiting from Fairmont was one of the umpires for the Class AAA teams in last week’s state high school baseball tournament. ...

 A young man by the name of Billy Dee Williams has announced he will be attending West Virginia University this coming season. It as announced on a Metro News report and Williams’ statement was read there. But there was no announcement from coach Bob Huggins, who underwent hip surgery Monday morning, until Monday afternoon. We trust this is a strong candidate for playing honors when November rolls around, but we have some concern that he played for one junior college as a freshman and another one as a sophomore. We hope he will not jump ship after one year at the University unless WVU fans might want him to do such. ...

Major league baseball lost one of its lifers last  Wednesday when Don Zimmer, who had been part of the game since 1949 as a player, coach, manager and advisor, passed away at age 83. Zimmer, most recently a senior advisor to the Rays, had undergone surgery to repair a leaky heart valve on April 16 and had been on a ventilator since. Imagine all the different players Zimmer has played with, coached or managed over 65 years. An amazing number! ...During a minor league game on July 7, 1953, Zimmer was struck by a pitch thrown by pitcher Jim Kirk, causing Zimmer to lose consciousness. He suffered a brain injury that required surgery. He woke up two weeks later, thinking that it was the day after the game where the incident took place. This led to Major League Baseball adopting batting helmets as a safety measure to be used by players when at-bat. Phil Rizzuto, the famed Yankee shortstop and broadcaster, was the first player to use the batting helmets.

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