Pittsburgh Pirates Wake Up Call – Pressure is on for Marte, Polanco

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates undoubtedly enter spring training with a lot more questions than answers. Players are battling for positions in the starting rotation, bullpen and even in the Pirates outfield.

But despite all of these lingering questions that will likely be answered prior to Opening Day, two outfield positions are locked up by a pair of players who may find themselves under increased pressure this season.

A year after missing a majority of the 2017 season due to a suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Starling Marte enters 2018 with higher expectations than usual. With the departure of Andrew McCutchen, Marte will now serve as the undisputed starting center fielder and will be expected to produce at a high level, both offensively and defensively, like he has in the past.

Gregory Polanco will be expected to do the same. But even more so, it will be vital that the 25-year-old stays healthy. He battled various injuries last season and had somewhat of a disappointing campaign, hitting .251 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 108 games. His average didn’t dip much from 2016, but his home run and RBI numbers did fall from 22 and 86, respectively, in 2016.

Marte and Polanco arrived in Pittsburgh as two of the organization’s top prospects. The expectations have always been high and in the “Post McCutchen” era of Pirates baseball, those expectations will be even higher.

The Pirates may be on the verge of an up and down year in 2018, but if the team wants to see more ups than downs, the play of Marte and Polanco will be crucial. The pressure will be high for the two young outfielders and it will be interesting to see if they thrive or struggle to meet those higher expectations.

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Jose Negron

Jose Negron is a 22 year old journalist from the North Huntingdon area. A recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Jose has written for Rumbunter and Pirates Breakdown for the past year. He is the former Editor in Chief and Sports Editor of Cal U's campus newspaper, the Cal Times. He also covers high school sports for the Mon Valley Independent and serves as a contributor for Pittsburgh Sporting News, covering the Pirates. During the summer of 2015, he also interned with TribLive Radio, writing for their online blog, helping in the production of various radio shows and even appearing on the air.