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Polanco now focusing on ‘next year’


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Gregory Polanco. – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

DENVER -- The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed LHP Wei-Chung Wang from the Athletics on Saturday. In a concurrent move, Gregory Polanco was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.

We're going to focus on that second sentence first, because ... well, just listen to Clint Hurdle talk about Polanco.

"It's procedural in the fact that he's still working through some things," Hurdle was saying before Saturday night's game against the Rockies at Coors Field. "He's tried to put every effort and energy into getting back, and I don't think that it's worked out as quickly as he'd like. I know his focus was to finish, and I'm not even sure what date that puts him at. Does that take him off for ... I think it wipes him out for the season.

"So the focus will now be on what's next for next year."

Polanco's focus was to finish. Technically, Polanco could return this season, but, as Hurdle put it:

"[There's] probably some freedom of mind that he's still not on a time-sensitive calendar to get back if he doesn't feel ready," Hurdle said.

Yeah. Don't count on that one. Barring the unforeseen, Polanco will finish his 2019 campaign with a .242/.301/.425 slashline with six home runs in 153 at-bats.

OK, now ... let's talk about the new face in town.

The 27-year-old Wang recorded a 3.33 ERA and 5.29 FIP in 20 appearances with the Athletics this season. He also posted a 4.78 ERA and 5.48 FIP over 20 outings for their AAA-affiliate Las Vegas Aviators. He was designated for assignment on Aug. 29, with his last major league appearance coming on Aug. 6.

Wang (pronounced Wong) was originally signed by the Pirates as an international free agent in October of 2011, though he barely pitched in their farm system, making only 12 appearances in their rookie Gulf Coast League in 2013. Shortly after signing in 2011, the Pirates discovered Wang needed Tommy John surgery, so the contract was voided and he signed a new one. As a result, the rules protecting minor leaguers in the farm system for a set number of years was no longer applicable, and the Milwaukee Brewers were able to select him in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. He went on to pitch 18.2 total innings for them in 2014 and 2017.

After pitching in the South Korean KBO last year, Wang signed a minor league deal with Oakland in February.

Left-handed batters have struggled against Wang this year, recording a .186/.265/.256 slash line over 49 big league plate appearances. Wang's most used pitch is his low-90s fastball, but he also offers a slider, changeup and curve.

Wang is expected to join the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Major league rosters will be able to expand starting Sunday.

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