Gregory Polanco made the announcement himself: The wait for Pirates fans is over.
Polanco, the Pirates' top prospect, was promoted from Triple-A on Monday night and will make his much-anticipated debut Tuesday against the Cubs. The 22-year-old outfielder has hit .347 this season with seven homers and 49 RBIs.
"Our goal is to bring him here when we feel it's the right time," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. "In an ideal world, we'd like to get him some more plate appearances down there. What he's doing has allowed us to shorten that time frame a little bit."
The right time came Monday night when second baseman Neil Walker hit the disabled list with an appendectomy. That opened the door for Polanco, rated as baseball's No. 12 prospect by MLB.com.
All eyes will be on Polanco in his debut as he attempts to spark a Pirates team that finds itself three games below .500 and 7 1/2 games back in the National League Central.
Meanwhile, starter Francisco Liriano will continue to seek consistency. The left-hander's season began with six shutout innings against the Cubs, but has since been marked by erratic pitching and odd results. He will have an opportunity to face Chicago a second time when the teams meet Tuesday in Pittsburgh for the second game of a four-game series.
Liriano's first and lone victory didn't come until May 30, and despite allowing just a bunt single in five innings in his last start, he took a loss by walking six and allowing three runs (two earned).
"Too many walks, getting behind the count too much. Not executing pitches. Three-two counts on almost every hitter," Liriano said, listing mistakes following his sixth loss.
After posting a 3.02 ERA last season, Liriano enters his 14th start with a 4.54 ERA. He has surrendered at least four earned runs in six of his 13 starts, compared to doing so seven times in 26 starts last year.
As he seeks to regain the form that he found last season and carried into his first start this year, Liriano will face a Cubs team he has had success against. With his season-opening start -- a no-decision in which he struck out 10 -- Liriano has posted a career 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs.
Cubs starter Travis Wood, who allowed two runs on four hits over five innings in a no-decision his last time out, will oppose Liriano. In his last outing, Wood walked a season-high five batters, but helped himself by hitting a two-run homer and driving in another run on a fielder's choice.
While Liriano's top performance this season came against the Cubs, one of Wood's came against the Pirates. The right-hander lasted six innings allowing one run in his second start of the season against Pittsburgh.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are attempting to carry on the momentum they began to find at home. Chicago won five of six games on their last homestand before starting a 10-game road trip on Monday in Pittsburgh, where it lost 6-2.
The Cubs are 10-22 on the road this season, leaving manager Rick Renteria eager to see if his team can carry recent success at Wrigley Field to its road trip.
"More than anything it's my interest to see if we can continue to play good baseball," Renteria said. "The results, they'll take care of themselves."
The Pirates will have extra help Tuesday, with the long-awaited arrival of Polanco.
Cubs: Carrying success to the road
In their last road trip at the end of May, the Cubs went 4-6 with two series against first-place teams in the National League as stops included San Diego, San Francisco and Milwaukee.
The Cubs followed that trip up with five straight victories at Wrigley Field before suffering a one-run loss Sunday against Miami. While the Cubs are one game above .500 (15-14) at home this season, they are seeking to use the 10-game road trip that started Monday to inch closer to .500 overall.
Chicago is currently in a stretch of playing 20 of 26 games on the road. That stretch will end with this road trip June 18.
"We had a good chance on our last road trip, we were one game from being .500," Renteria said. "It's like hitting -- sometimes you struggle and a guy wants to get 10 hits in one at-bat. You've got to simplify and get back to playing the game and go pitch to pitch. I know it's all cliches, but you have to minimize the mistakes and have a good solid ballgame."
Pirates: Pittsburgh has new strategy to slow Bonifacio
When the Cubs and Pirates met for six games back in April, the Cubs' Emilio Bonifacio was a thorn in the Pirates' side.
Bonifacio went 16-for-30 (.533) in those six games, and went 11-for-16 against the Bucs in April at PNC Park. The Pirates certainly noticed, and planned to approach Bonifacio differently this time around.
"He was hitting .600 last time we saw him, but now he's found some more common ground where more of the hitters stay," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We found some areas where other teams were pitching him and having some success, so we'll see if we can replicate that."
Whatever the Pirates did, it worked Monday as Bonifacio went 0-for-4 in the first of four games between the teams this week.
• With the 6-2 series-opening victory Monday at PNC Park, the Pirates have now gone 5-2 against the Cubs this season.
• Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is hitting .390 (23-for-59) in his last 15 games played at PNC Park after going 2-for-4 Monday night with a two-run homer and 3 RBIs. McCutchen is 2-for-20 all-time against Wood.
• Cubs pitchers have surrendered Major League-low 40 home runs this season. Two of those came Monday against the Pirates.