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.