Bob Smizik: Where's Polanco?

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Nobody asked me, but...

• As of now, Gregory Polanco will not be in the Pirates lineup tonight against first-place Milwaukee and that's wrong. Based on his Class AAA performance, Polanco isn't just one of the Pirates’ 25 best players, he's one of their three best outfielders. If this is a baseball decision, it makes no sense. If this is a business decision, it makes no sense. Pirates management owes the fans an explanation.

• Remembering the 3-1 lead they had on the New York Rangers and now seeing those same Rangers in the Stanley Cup final has to make the Penguins, as well as their fans, sick. The second-round loss to the Rangers now ranks as a series that lives in Penguins infamy.

• In case you missed it, not surprisingly, athletic department personnel dominated the list of highest-paid employees for 2013 at the University of Pittsburgh. Basketball coach Jamie Dixon was No. 1 at $2.14 million. Football coach Paul Chryst was second at $1.58 million. Athletic director Steve Pederson was fourth at $633,000 and fired women’s basketball coach Agnus Berenato was fifth at $513,000. All the details can be found here.

• Remember Mark Appel, the first-round draft choice who turned down the Pirates in 2012. Based on recent circumstances, that could have been the Pirates’ lucky day. After four poor starts in high Class A, Appel was returned to extended spring training in late April. He rejoined Lancaster in the California League last week to start again. His line: 1⅓ innings, 10 hits, 10 earned runs, three homers. For the season, Appel has an 11.93 ERA and a .403 BAA (through Wednesday).

• This is the batting line of all Pirates No. 4 hitters this season: .214/.307/.362 -- .669. They are 12th in OPS, fifth in home runs with 10 and ninth in RBIs with 32.

• Smart coaching: Tim Duncan led San Antonio in the regular season with 2,158 minutes but was 102nd in the league. No San Antonio player averaged more than 30 minutes a game, an NBA record.

• Now quite sure what, if anything, this stat means but I find it intriguing. Average length of a start for a Pirates pitcher in 2013: 5.7 innings. Average length of a start for a Pirates pitcher in 2014: 5.7 innings.

• Since his return from the disabled list, the Pirates are 8-1 in games started by Russell Martin.

• Veteran slugger Raul Ibanez, 42, continues to get regular playing time with the Los Angeles Angels despite this batting line in 143 at bats: .140/.248/.259 -- .507.

• Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, whose salary is $3.55 million, is on the disabled list with an ankle injury incurred while celebrating Josh Beckett’s no-hitter. Do not, however, look for any downturn in the zany celebrations that occur with some regularity on the MLB level. If the Kendrys Morales injury celebrating his home run didn’t stop this practice, nothing will.

• Pirates minor-league outfielder Jaff Decker, acquired for Alex Dickerson in the offseason, had a .923 OPS in May with Indianapolis. Dickerson has yet to play this season due to injury.

• Those are compelling matchups for the championships of the NHL and NBA -- the Rangers-Kings and Spurs-Heat. For the NHL it’s a TV package made in Heaven. The picks here: Kings and Spurs.

• Highly respected MLB executive Stan Kasten, now with the Dodgers, on money vs. brains. “I always say that smart beats rich. But it’s better to be smart and rich.”

• Former Pirates: Kevin Correia is 2-6 with a 5.87 ERA with the Twins. In 65 at bats, Ryan Doumit is batting .197 with a .494 OPS in 67 at bats for Atlanta. Brad Lincoln is 2-3 with a 4.75 ERA with Lehigh Valley in the International League. Casey McGehee, batting fourth for the Marlins, has one home run, 37 RBIs (ninth in the NL), a .714 OPS and a .429 (27-63) batting average with runners in scoring position (first in the NL).

• From the excellent article on the slow pace of baseball by Tom Verducci of SI.com. ''On May 10 in a game between Baltimore and Houston, a seven-pitch at-bat between pitcher Ryan Webb of the Orioles and infielder Marwin Gonzalez of the Astros took five minutes, with most of the time wasted with Gonzalez walking out of the batter's box and Webb stepping off the rubber and the mound.

• If you’re looking for a timeline on Jameson Taillon’s recovery from the Tommy John surgery he had in April, here’s two recent cases. Joel Hanrahan underwent the surgery in mid-May of last year and is expected to be in the Tigers bullpen this month. The Dodgers Chad Billingsley had the surgery last April. He will begin what is expected to be a five-game minor-league rehab in the immediate future.

According to reports, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will sign a six-year extension for $126 million with $61 million guaranteed. That’s the highest guaranteed money ever for an NFL player. Wonder what Ben Roethlisberger thinks about that.


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