The Pittsburgh Pirates released veteran outfielder Gregory Polanco on Saturday, signaling an end to the 29-year-old’s eight-season stint with the team.
Polanco was batting just .208 with 11 homers, 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 107 games with the Pirates this season.
“Gregory has been a true professional throughout his entire Pirates career, including in our conversation with him regarding today’s roster move,” Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington said in a news release. “He has been a great teammate who always handled himself with class and took a great deal of pride in representing the Pirates and the city of Pittsburgh. We wish him nothing but success moving forward.”
Polanco hit .241 with 96 homers, 362 RBIs and 98 stolen bases in 823 games with Pittsburgh. He played 697 games in right field, fourth in franchise history behind Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente (2,295) and Paul Waner (1,995) and 1978 National League MVP Dave Parker (1,180).
However, Polanco’s poor season prompted criticism from Pirates fans, and earlier this week he was heckled with chants of “D-F-A” (designated for assignment) after making a costly error in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s not nice. It’s not nice. They have to understand that I’m a human being, too,” Polanco told reporters prior to Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. “This is my work. This is my job. I don’t want to do bad. I eat because of baseball. That’s how I get paid, so I want to do great every time. That’s not nice to hear that, the fans like, ‘Oh, release him. DFA him. Send him back.’
“But they don’t understand. They don’t know how hard it is. I’m doing 100 percent every day to get better. It’s been a hard year for me, obviously. This is my free-agent year. I want to do good. I want to keep playing baseball until I can’t. I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to be home. I want to be on a baseball field. This is what I love. They don’t understand, and that’s sad.”
The Pirates indicated they plan to recall infielder Cole Tucker from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill the roster opening. He is 3-for-21 (.143) with one RBI in 13 games with Pittsburgh this season.
–Field Level Media