Harrison embraces utility role with Pirates

Harrison embraces utility role with Pirates

ST. LOUIS -- Josh Harrison loves everything about his utility role on the Pirates -- including his unofficial title as the team's jack of all trades.

Harrison can play almost anywhere on the diamond, a skill that makes him invaluable.

"I think it is pretty unique to play quite a few different positions," Harrison said. "I never know where they're going to use me."

Which is fine with Harrison, who is listed as a third baseman. He has also played shortstop and second base during his 77-game big league career. He spent time at five different positions in the Minors, including left field and right field.

That kind of versatility endears him to manager Clint Hurdle, who isn't afraid to place Harrison at any position or in any spot in the batting order.

"I just love to play, I don't care where," Harrison said.

The Cincinnati native has been particularly effective at the plate recently. He came off the bench Wednesday to contribute a pair of run-scoring hits in the seventh and ninth innings of a 12-3 loss at St. Louis. On Monday, in a rare start, he had a key hit in the Pirates' 9-3 win at Atlanta.

"It's always good when your guys can come in and they've got focus," Hurdle said.

Harrison was obtained from the Chicago Cubs on July 30, 2009, along with pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio in exchange for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. He spent all of 2010 with the Pirates' Double-A team in Altoona, Pa., and began the 2011 campaign at Triple-A Indianapolis. Harrison hit .321 the first two months of the season before he was called up to the big leagues on May 30.

The 24-year-old went 2-for-4 in his Major League debut, including a single off Mets knuckleballer R.A Dickey in his second at-bat.

Harrison appeared in 65 games last season, with one homer and 16 RBIs. He drove in a career-high three runs in a 7-0 win at St. Louis on Aug. 27, 2011. All three RBIs came off Chris Carpenter.

Harrison believes he has the tools to be an everyday player. But he is embracing his current role for the time being. His two-RBI effort on Wednesday speaks volumes.

"I'm always ready on the bench, and this was one of those days where we had to use the bench," he said. "I was happy to get to go in, help out, and contribute with some good ABs."

Harrison is 5-for-24 (.208) with four RBIs in 12 appearances this season.