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Gregory Polanco spoke about the Pittsburgh Pirates fans who molested him at PNC Park this week , and showed that their harsh criticism stung the pride of the longest-serving right fielder on the team.

One day after Polanco made a costly mistake in a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks and fans had called him “DFA” he was asked how he had dealt with fan setbacks when he returned to the lineup after deleting waivers earlier this week. Polanco didn’t hold back – it took 2 minutes, 45 seconds to reply – before leaving the field.

“It’s difficult. It’s difficult. It’s not nice. It’s not nice. You have to understand that I am I’m also a human, “said Polanco after punching training on Thursday afternoon before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.” That’s my job. This is my job. I don’t want to do anything bad. I’m eating because of baseball. This is how I get paid, so I want to be great every time. It’s not nice to hear that fans like, ‘Oh, let go of him. DFA him. Send him back. ’

“ But you don’t understand. You don’t know how hard it is. I do 100% every day to get better. It’s obviously been a tough year for me. This is my free agent year. I want to do good. I want to play baseball until I can’t anymore. I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to be home. I want to be on a baseball field. That’s what i love They don’t understand, and that’s sad. ”

Polanco, who will turn 30 on September 14, signed with the Pirates from the Dominican Republic in April 2009 at the age of 17 and made his debut in June 2014 the major league.

He’s the only holdover from their teams, who made three consecutive postseason appearances from 2013-2015, and he signed a five-year deal for $ 35 million in April 2016.

Polanco has long been a lightning rod for criticism from Pirates fans. He had 23 home runs and 81 RBIs when he injured his left knee and (throwing) shoulder in an uncomfortable slide in September 2018 and was a shell for the former top 10 prospect who was once considered the next big thing by Sports Illustrated Polanco beat .153 with a .539 OPS in 50 games last year and his fights this season. He beats .203 / .279 / .345 with 10 doubles, two threes, 11 home runs and 34 RBIs, numbers that have made complaints worse as the Pirates have the fourth worst record in baseball.

“People will be theirs Have opinion. Fans will have their opinions. I appreciate that and I appreciate your passion, ”said Pirates manager Derek Shelton on Thursday afternoon. “As I’ve told you many times, the problem I would have with Gregory or any other player on our team would be effort. I would have a hard time on this zoom (video conference call) or anyone who’s watched us play say they haven’t done extremely well all year.

Shelton was asked to explain how the pirates in the home dugout or clubhouse responded to the mockery directed at Polanco, which became more audible as the crowd for the three-game series against the Diamondbacks dipped to an announced average of 8,477.

“I think our reaction is to play the game, “Shelton said. “Like I said, people will be passionate. People have their opinion and value their opinion. If you’ve been in this game long enough, you will get things yelled at. You can go through good times and bad. We’re trying to focus on playing the game. ”

It reached a breaking point when the pirates waived on Sunday to get another team to pick up the rest of his contract, the club options for has two more years with a buyout of $ 3 million in 2022 and a buyout of $ 1 million in 2022. 23. Polanco said Pirates general manager Ben Cherington informed him of the move after the weekend series in St. Louis when the team plane landed.

Sports talk show hosts have been wondering why Polanco for weeks still regularly in the starting XI even after deleting waivers.

“It’s my choice,” Shelton said, noting that Polanco also had two hits against Arizona. “It is my decision to add him to the line-up against (Cardinals pitcher Miles) Mikolas, a left-handed player. I know (Wednesday) night that he made a mistake, but he played well defensively. I think that would be the easiest answer for you. ”

In Polanco’s response, he expressed his frustration that the fans were taking out theirs on him. Polanco has repeatedly shared his love of the game and even volunteered that he is working hard to correct the mistakes in his swing – he leads the team in strikeouts at 101 – by doing 300 punches in the batting cage every day. </ P "You never hear the wrong thing about me outside of the baseball field," Polanco said. "I like to play baseball. And I love the fans. They ask themselves in town how I am, how I treat people, and they will say 100% that I'm a nice person. You've known me for a long time . It's hard to hear from the fans who are supposed to support us. Even if we don't play great, it's not nice.

“But I try to keep that out of my head, even if it’s difficult when playing is not to do it. There are only 5,000 people here so you can hear it all. I can’t say much about that. I just want to play and do my best. Nobody wants to make mistakes. Nobody wants to strike. If you’re a hitter, want to hit you. If you’re a hitter, you want to run in, you want to get down to the ground. I don’t know why they’re doing this to me. I know I don’t play great, but I’m trying. Me try. “

Kevin Gorman is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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