By Jenn Menendez and Hayes Gardner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Struggles were bound to arise for Gregory Polanco as he works his way through his first major league season.
Polanco was given the night off Monday against Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, and tasked with what manager Clint Hurdle calls "rebooting."
"He continues to play, continues to fight, he continues to battle," Hurdle said. "This wasn't unexpected from us by any means. We've got to keep working with him, and keep reminding him that this is the major leagues. You do well here, you're not going to go up again. You're done going up.
"You've got to figure out how to reboot and recalibrate and that's what he's working on right now."
Polanco hit .288 in 92 plate appearances in June, but his average is .194 in 62 plate appearances in July. Polanco is 3 for 35 with three walks since July 9.
"He's been challenged with some left-handed spins, some right-handed spins, so you find times down," said Hurdle. "He just faced three left-handers, we've got a couple right-handers on the back end of this series.
"Kind of crazy, isn't it? He wasn't here early enough. And now we're trying to give him a day off [and it's], 'Jeez, he's not playing. What's up?' We're trying to figure it out, too."
Hurdle said he evaluates players beyond the numbers, looking at the body language and reaction to difficult situations.
"You use your eyes and ears and you learn about all your players. You learn more about people ... when you go through adversity," Hurdle said. "I do have a tendency to pay more attention to people's body language when things are going rough than when they're going good."
Michael Martinez made his first start this season at PNC Park in place of Polanco. He played center and left field for Class AAA Indianapolis and said he got a few tips on playing right at PNC Park.
"Right field I think is easier than left. It's easier to play. Left field is not easy [at PNC Park]," Martinez said. "I'll be good. I'll be fine. I'm not an outfielder, really, but I play everywhere, wherever they need me."
Gerrit Cole will throw a simulated game Wednesday at PNC Park. Hurdle said the plan is for Cole to throw one inning with a screen, followed by three more against hitters. The pitch count will be 50-55, maybe 60, Hurdle said. Cole, who has a sore right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back, was eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday.
Marte returns to lineup
Starling Marte returned to the starting lineup Monday night after he was hit in the helmet Friday night by a fastball.
Marte didn't play Saturday and pinch-hit Sunday, then reported feeling good.
"You give [those situations] time. The doctors have a certain concussion protocol that's followed," Hurdle said. "You exert him, work him out, you make him do the things you're going to ask for him to do later in the game. You ask for any dizziness, ask for any fogginess, any heaviness. They respond accordingly.
"[Sunday] he got to a place in the morning where he was able to go through all the activity and then say, 'You know what, I'm OK. I feel OK.' "
Worley back as starter
Vance Worley will return to the starting rotation today to face Josh Beckett and the Dodgers. Worley pitched two innings in relief July 13 against the Reds, allowing two runs after being moved to the bullpen before the All-Star break as an emergency reliever.
"Out of the pen, it's more of an adrenaline rush," he said. "As a starter, you can pace yourself. You know you can build up to start throwing harder."
Worley's most recent start was July 8 in St. Louis. He allowed four runs in five innings.
"We knew that there was going to be some time from that last start to now, so I got thrown in the pen in a just-in-case, emergency-type deal," Worley said.
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