5/18/2014 12:40 A.M. ET
Finding comfort with Bucs, Ike returns to NY
By Nate Taylor / Special to MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Ike Davis smiled inside the Pirates' clubhouse before Saturday's game against the Yankees. Davis made his return to New York, although the Pirates were not facing his former team, the Mets.
A month ago, the Pirates traded for Davis, a first baseman who was never able to find his groove with the Mets. Davis said he didn't feel disrespected, but instead has focused on enjoying his time with the Pirates. He can attest that a lot has changed since the trade on April 18.
"It's nice to play for someone that actually wants you or thinks you can help the team," Davis said. "I don't think the Mets hated me. I don't hate them."
Davis will play against the Mets for the first time on May 26.
With the Pirates, Davis has played well and he appears to be more comfortable at the plate, which was one of the issues that concerned the Mets. In the past 14 games entering Saturday, Davis had a .349 average, which ranked among the leaders in the National League over that span. He had gone 12-for-25 in the eight games leading up to Saturday.
Manager Clint Hurdle did not want to put too much pressure on Davis when he joined the Pirates. He told Davis he would not learn everyone's name overnight. The main objective Hurdle had for Davis was for him to figure out his swing and to get his mechanics to be more consistent.
"As time has moved forward, we've been able to add a little bit of history," Hurdle said. "We've shared a little bit of research that we had done on him with him from an educational vantage point. I think it was more important for him to understand what our expectations were."
With the Mets, Davis, 27, was expected to produce in the middle of the lineup and lead the offense by driving in a lot of runs. Hurdle made it clear that would not be expected of Davis in Pittsburgh.
Hurdle has placed Davis sixth in the batting order behind Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte. Russell Martin, a veteran catcher, knows the difficulties that come along with joining a new team -- even if he has never been traded during the season. Martin has noticed Davis is proving his worth with each game.
"Sometimes when you have the same people around you, they have these ideas of who you are," Martin said of Davis' situation with the Mets. "When you go somewhere else, you can show new people what you can do. You can kind of just restart people's opinions of you."
Hurdle said he has been impressed with Davis' attitude when it comes to his transition.
"I think he's played a very workable, blue-collared first base for us," Hurdle said. "We'll just continue to give him opportunities."
Polanco continues to make Triple-A look easy
A pair of top Pirates prospects put their talents on full display across two Minor League levels on Saturday night.
Of course, big offensive nights have become the norm for outfielder Gregory Polanco, ranked No. 12 on MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. Pittsburgh's top prospect went 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored, raising his average to .389, for Triple-A Indianapolis in a 6-5 loss to the Gwinnett Braves.
The Indianapolis Indians' Twitter account reported that Polanco leads all of Triple-A with a 196 wRC+, according to FanGraphs.com, meaning he's created 96 percent more runs for his club than the average Triple-A player.
Meanwhile, Double-A Altoona shortstop Alen Hanson went 3-for-4 with a solo home run, stole two bases and turned four double plays as the Curve beat the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 3-0.
Hanson, the Pirates' No. 5 prospect and No. 58 on MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, is now batting .273/.309/.448 with four homers, 19 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
The 21-year-old is on pace to post similar numbers to those from his 2013 campaign, which came on the heels of a breakout '12 season in which he hit .309/.381/.528 with 16 homers and 35 steals for Class A West Virginia.
-- Adam Berry
Martin progressing, inching closer to return
NEW YORK -- Catcher Russell Martin appears to be one day closer to returning to the Pirates after a successful training session when he ran at full speed and did not feel any tightness in his left hamstring. Martin also faced live pitching on Saturday and has participated in two bullpen sessions.
"I felt like I've been approaching it as carefully and as intelligently as I can," Martin said. "I'm trying to stay out of my own way as far as being over-aggressive, which is what I tend to do."
Martin sustained his injury on April 25 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He plans on going through another workout on Sunday. If his leg continues to feel well, Martin could return to the Pirates next week. For now, manager Clint Hurdle wants to see Martin go through more catching drills.
"He had his most aggressive day running," Hurdle said. "We'll see how he feels after that and whether we pick up the pace on the catching portion of it."
Closer Jason Grilli, who is recovering from a strained left oblique, pitched one inning of a simulated bullpen session Saturday. He faced three batters, one left-hander and two right-handers, and threw 20 pitches. Grilli pitched two innings in a simulated game Wednesday.
Hurdle was not exactly sure what will be the next step for Grilli as he prepares to make his return. Hurdle did however like what he saw from Grilli.
"He had a very good day," Hurdle said. "He followed the glove very well. I thought the breaking ball shaped better than last time out. I thought it was a very good step forward for him."
Hurdle has nothing but praise for Jeter
NEW YORK -- The Pirates did not give Derek Jeter a farewell gift before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium, but manager Clint Hurdle praised Jeter, who will finish his 19-year career at the end of this season. Hurdle said the player that most resembled Jeter's career when he was a player was Tony Gwynn.
Hurdle said he has been particularly impressed with the way Jeter has played the game with integrity. He also noted Jeter's durability in being able to play through the physical demands of each passing season.
"He's great," Hurdle said. "When you're good for a long time, that's how you establish greatness. He's continued to be good for a long time. He's been an anchor. The game will miss him. Hopefully, we have more of those coming. But we've lost a few that will be hard to replace -- and he'll be one of them."
Nate Taylor is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.