Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pirates' Harrison proves a worthy All-Star

By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
August 14, 2014

Photo: Getty Images

DETROIT -- Josh Harrison is validating his surprise selection to the National League All-Star team with an even stronger second half.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' 27-year-old utility man entered Wednesday's action with the third-most hits by a National League player since the All-Star break. He had 35, trailing only Washington Nationalsoutfielder Denard Span (42) and the New York Metssecond baseman Daniel Murphy (36). He led the majors with 21 hits in August, including nine for extra bases.
Harrison had a double in five at-bats Wednesday and scored a run in the Pirates' 8-4 loss to theDetroit Tigers.
At the break, Harrison was hitting .297 with five home runs 28 RBIs and nine stolen bases. He now has a .316 average -- third in the league -- with 10 homers, 38 RBIs and 17 steals.
"There were some people who were sideways when he made the All-Star Game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "If you're not with him every day, I guess you can understand it. If you see him every day, you understand a lot better. The way he's responded after the All-Star Game has obviously added a little bit more credibility to everything he did before the All-Star Game and his selection to the team."
Harrison has mainly played at third base ahead of error-prone Pedro Alvarez this month. Overall, he has made 20 starts there, 13 at second base, 22 in left field and 23 in right field. He has moved around in the batting order but has settled in at the leadoff spot. His .337 average as a leadoff man tops the majors.
It has been a meteoric rise for a player who bounced between the majors and Triple-A the last three seasons and was left off last year's postseason roster.
"He's sparked us in a number of different ways," Hurdle said. "He's sparked rally after rally with a big hit and just by the fact he's been able to step in there and take on all pitchers. He's handled all the challenges out of the bullpen, the ones and twos (starters) -- he fights and scratches and claws, and he's put together a very defining season."

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