A weekly feature aimed at rounding up a whole lot of odds and ends from a whole lot of time spent around our local teams …
• Starling Marte is best buds with Gregory Polanco. The two hang together, in the Pirates' clubhouse and in the outside world. Both are Dominican. Marte is only three years older.
And yet -- and I'm going to be careful in wording this -- I can tell you that Marte wasn't all that thrilled when all of Pittsburgh was almost hysterically clamoring for Polanco early this summer. Again, not because of any issue with Polanco the person or the player. "He's a great hitter," Marte told me at the time. "I want to see him here, too." But there also was a bit of a chip with the sentiment. "I'm here, too. I can play."
Well, flash forward to Thursday night and the 3-2 edging of the Red Sox at PNC Park, in which Marte's 13th home run -- a bomb to the bleacher walkway -- that made the difference. Seven of those home runs have come in the past 35 games. So have 19 RBIs. And since the All-Star break, he's batting .356. Not many have been better, and no one tops his .616 slugging percentage.