Neither Barry Bonds nor Andrew McCutchen -- the last two Pirates to win the National League MVP award -- arrived in the major leagues with as much as anticipation from Pittsburgh fans as Gregory Polanco did Tuesday night.
Polanco made his major league debut, playing right field and batting second, and went 1-for-5 in a 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He received a standing ovation of 31,567 at PNC Park prior to his first at-bat.
The left-handed hitting Polanco got his first major-league hit in the third inning off left-hander Travis Wood. Pirates fan and the Pittsburgh media had been clamoring for Polanco to be called up for weeks, especially after Travis Snider and Jose Tabata both failed to grab the starting job in right field. Yet Polanco was genuinely surprised that his debut was generating so much buzz.
"I did not expect this," Polanco said during a pregame press conference. "I did not think people would be this excited. I'm excited, too. My dream has come true. I'm in the big leagues."
He didn't expect a standing ovation, either.
"That was very nice, but it made me a little nervous, too," Polanco said with a smile. "Once I got the hit, I felt the better."
The Pirates hope that there will many more hits to come from the 22-year-old.
"I'm not going to get in front of myself and predict the future but it was exciting to watch him play tonight," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There was a really great atmosphere in the ballpark. It was fun. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Gregory."