Harrison unlikely to start at short for Pirates

Harrison unlikely to start at short for Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- With the Pirates' decision not to exercise Ronny Cedeno's club option for 2012, it has initiated discussion about who might replace Cedeno at short next season.

The Pirates are exploring the available external options -- those who are free agents and those who might be available via the trade market -- but also not ruling out the possibility of Cedeno's successor coming from within. The most likely internal replacement would be Chase d'Arnaud, with Pedro Ciriaco another option.

Then there is Josh Harrison, who agreed to go to instructional league at the end of the Major League season to get repetition at short. Even still, it seems unlikely that the club would consider handing over the shortstop job to Harrison next season.

The decision to have Harrison work out at a position he only played once in the Minors was primarily to increase his versatility. It was not intended to get him ready to start regularly at short.

"How do we see him fitting with our club next year? Probably in a utility role," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "But we're not going to hold him back if he shows that he can continue to develop and continue to get better."

Harrison made his Major League debut in 2011 and fared fairly well, especially given the fact that he didn't even participate in Major League camp during Spring Training. Though his plate discipline needs to improve, Harrison hit .272 and scored 21 runs in 195 at-bats. His on-base percentage suffered because he only drew three walks.

As Harrison emerged from the Minors, there were questions about his defensive ability. He did not, however, expose himself as a defensive liability when filling in at third or second last year. As a result, he has to be considered one of the top candidates to win a spot as an extra infielder in 2012. He's just unlikely to begin the year as a starter.

"Josh is one of those players that grows on you the more you see him play," Huntington said. "He's a gamer. He has great effort, great energy, very positive. He gives you everything he has every single day."