According to Clint Hurdle, the Pirates are inching closer to the returns of both Josh Harrison (thumb) and Jordy Mercer (knee) from the disabled list, with possibilities of both returning this weekend against the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s getting closer,” Hurdle said. “There is a chance both of them will be back sometime within this series.”

The returns of Harrison and Mercer will create a logjam of viable options for the left-side of the infield. This a good problem, but nevertheless an issue that Hurdle and Neal Huntington have been discussing at length in the recent weeks.

“There’s a lot of considerations we need to take into place,” Hurdle said regarding how the Pirates will divide playing time between Jung-ho Kang, Aramis Ramirez, Harrison and Mercer. “With Harrison’s flexibility, how that work? What does Jordy’s role need to be here in order for us to be the best team we can be? I’ve given a lot of thought, Neal and I have talked at length.”

It’s probable that Harrison will return to his previous utility role, with his unique ability to play third base, second base and both corner outfield positions. Harrison could also provide a good platoon option with Walker at second base, who sat once again against Diamondbacks’ lefty Robbie Ray last night. Hurdle has consistently said that he believes Mercer is a better defender at shortstop than Kang, and believes that Kang is more suited for third base. He’s also been happy with Ramirez’s production in the cleanup spot of the order.

“We’ve got all those pieces, and we need paint the right picture for us. I think we have a very good idea of what we want to do and how we want to do it,” Hurdle said.

Will Mercer receive the bulk of playing time at shortstop? Will the majority of Kang’s starts come from the third base position? Will Aramis Ramirez assume more of a bench role? These are all questions that should be answered in short time.

**The Pirates officially announced the minor league signing of Travis Snider. He will join Indianapolis tonight.

**The Pirates also announced that Corey Hart will begin his rehab with Indianapolis tonight.

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  1. Yay!

    Also, either the Pirates are going to have defensive substitutions who can also hit or amazing pinch hitting options, and either way, plenty of rest for everyone.

    • I think Ramirez and Kang are very tough outs, excellent with two strikes, and racking up the RBIs. Hate to see either one on the bench the way they are going. What is the Bucs record since Ramirez came over?

      • 16-7 with A Ram in the game, 17-7 overall since he didnt play one game that we won.

        Somewhat surprising since he had about 10 games of uselessness followed by the rest being very good.

        • Pirates were 24-12 with Tabata on the roster. Ramirez was a much better option than internal ones the Pirates had, but he still isn’t a great fit for 4th spot and shouldn’t start over a fully healthy Harrison.

          He is hitting better, but the whole team is, Ramirez is the 7th best Pirates hitter over the last week, 8th best over the last two.

          • Without looking about the advanced metrics, the eye test tells me he has had a lot of line outs, doesn’t strike out much for a 4th hitter, forces higher pitch counts, but does hit into double plays. Then the question….who is a better clean up hitter?

            • On most nights anyone else in the lineup. This isn’t 2010, Ramirez has been a league average hitter for 900 plate appearances, he doesn’t walk any more, and is a base clogger.

              He hasn’t really been unlucky in his time with the Pirates, he is no a bit of hot streak but projects to be league average, the Pirates have better hitters in the lineup.

        • Thanks. Maybe this gets to A Ram’s “professionalism” at the plate that Hurdle keeps referring to.

          • Hurdle’s logic begins and ends with Ramirez being a “proven” cleanup hitter. Take away the name on the jersey or the position in the batting order he’s previously hit and there’s absolutely no way he’d be cleanup.

            That being said, the whole concept matters little in the end.

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