The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled Josh Harrison from his rehab assignment today, and have designated Josh Wall for assignment, per a team press release. The move is expected, as we learned yesterday that Harrison and Jordy Mercer were expected back this weekend. Beyond that, Ryan Palencer reported on their status earlier in the week, and quoted Harrison as saying he didn’t expect to remain with Indianapolis through their current road trip.

Wall was only up to provide temporary bullpen help after the Pirates went 15 innings earlier in the week. My guess is that Wall was called up mostly because he’s a guy you can waive after a day or two and not worry about losing for September.

As for Harrison’s role, this is where things might get interesting. Aramis Ramirez has been hitting well lately, but has been horrible defensively. Harrison was hitting well before his injury, but struggled in his rehab work. He also wasn’t the best defender at the start of the year. So it might be best for the Pirates to move him back to the super utility role he excelled in last year. That would especially be the case when Jordy Mercer returns, allowing the Pirates to move Jung-ho Kang to third base and put Mercer in at short, strengthening the defense.

At any rate, Harrison’s return starts the process of giving the Pirates a strong bench, which I wrote about a few days ago.

UPDATE 6:12 PM: Live coverage from Pete Ellis at PNC Park…

The Pirates have immediately inserted Josh Harrison right back into the starting lineup tonight against the Giants and LHP Madison Bumgarner, batting lead-off and playing second base.

Harrison played five games in his rehab stint with Indianapolis, including three starts at third base, one at second base, and two in the corner outfield positions.

“I feel like I’m ready now. I’ve got what I got. I feel I’ve got enough to help this push,” Harrison said confidently. “At this point, I’m ready to go and I feel like I can play with no restrictions.”

Hurdle said before today’s game that Harrison will not be placed directly into everyday third base duties. With his versatility, it is likely we will see Harrison bounce around between the corner outfield, third base and second base. As I stated yesterday, Harrison is a viable option to platoon with Walker at second base against left-handed pitchers, and the Pirates have already gone that route.

“That’s definitely an option that we have,” Hurdle said when asked if Harrison will receive the bulk of the playing time at second base against lefties. “We like his defensive play at second base. We like the bat against any left-hander in multiple places.”

Hurdle also acknowledged that Ramirez will not be an option to play every day going forward, which could keep him fresher and more productive heading into September. The final question is what Jordy Mercer’s role will be when he completes his rehab assignment within the next couple of days. Hurdle has consistently stated that Mercer is their best defensive option at shortstop, but it remains to be seen whether Mercer will receive the bulk of playing time at shortstop, or if will he fall into the role of a spot-starter/late-game defensive replacement. The flexibility with the roster will allow Hurdle to get creative in-game with double-switches and substitutions, depending on the game situation. As for how the lineup will take shape throughout the rest of the season, Hurdle stayed tight-lipped.

“I would encourage you to keep showing up and watching the lineup posting,” Hurdle joked.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Is there any reason they couldn’t option Cole to AAA after his start on Thursday and activate Mercer? Cole could then be called up on Sept 1 for his next start and you do not have dfa anyone. As long as he is on 40 man roster it does not hurt post season eligibility?

  2. I’m on the leave Mercer on the bench and come in 7-9th inning same as SRod, the whole thing with Morse getting DFA is confusing, he signed a two year contract, is it still valid? If so is he with the team next year, if so, how much is he getting pay next year?????????

  3. It’d be nice to hoard everyone and stash Mercer but unfortunately the timetable just won’t play out that way. No matter what we think of Ish…the guy will probably go to the Giants if we throw him out there. And that seems to always be a fit for them….somehow. But that could all be a mum point if we take 3 of 4 and open that gap some more.

    Also, on a side note….who called Happ and Morton as being the two SPs who started giving us stability these last two turns of the rotation? Lol…Baseball is a funny game…at every level.

  4. I’m guessing Kang is the cleanup hitter on the off days for Ramirez. Harrison 2nd and Marte 5th? We’ll probably find out tomorrow, a day game after a night game and against the righthander Heston.

  5. Have to admit that I wish Polanco was playing. Still, look at the bats on the bench! Alvarez, Walker, Stewart, Polanco, and Ishikawa. That’s a lot of possibilities, especially if we get to Bumgarner and they bring in a right hander. The bench that Tim wrote about is already here, and just getting stronger.

  6. I would have liked to see how a hot-hitting Polanco would have done tonight in lead off against MB and then eased Jay-Hay in by batting him 7 or 8. Harrison is pesky no matter where in lineup whereas I feel Polanco benefits big time by batting ahead of Marte. No way S-rod bats in a one game playoff, so why not do a test run tonight? In any event, I like the timing of the call up – hopefully boosts an already-energized team even further

  7. Harrison leading off and playing 2B tonight. Sean Rod in RF and Morse at 1B. Agree with VTBF that Ishy /Morse/someone goes on DL when Jordy is ready.

      • Lotta games in a row, and its not just a LHP he’s facing but an elite one. If you are gonna pick a day in this stretch to sit him, i would have circled this one a month ago.

          • And if we were playing 20 games in 20 days during that stretch, i doubt he plays that game.

            Its not that i dont believe Polanco can succeed against LHP, its that if you are gonna get him a rest day its nice to do it against a guy he’s most likely to struggle with. Hasnt had an off day since the last non game day, and its a long stretch going into September.

  8. Now we await the interesting move of who goes when Mercer returns. If it’s Ishikawa, that leaves no lefthanders on the bench when Alvarez starts. Having Rameriz take grounders at first suggests Morse is the odd man out. I’m predicting a DL stint for someone, probably Morse.

    • Ramirez at first is about the equivalent of putting Pedro there this time last year. Neither had ever played there

        • I agree with your point about Rameriz playing first. I don’t expect him there unless it’s an emergency. It’s still 10 days until Sept. 1 and Mercer may be back this weekend so the question is what happens until Sept. 1. After that, I’m pretty certain all of the current guys plus Snider will be there.

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