Harrison 0-3 in Curve return

Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch an astounding 23 times last season, including once on the left hand that broke a bone and ended his season with the Pirates on Sept. 2.

Harrison was hit again on the left hand April 15, breaking another bone, and had been out of action since then, until returning to the field Monday night to start a rehab stint with the Curve.

It’s a mystery as to why Harrison gets hit so much, although he offered up one theory following Monday’s game.

“Pitchers trying to attack me in, and a couple of them nowadays, there’s a lot more throwers than pitchers,” Harrison said. “You’ve got some pitchers, but you’ve got a lot of guys being rushed up that throw hard that necessarily can’t control where the ball’s going.”

Asked about the frustration of getting hit so much, particularly with balls breaking his hand, Harrison said, “Honestly, these are the only two times I’ve been hit in the hand, and very frustrating for it to be the first two times both of them to knock me out for significant time. It also goes to the point, if you can’t throw in, don’t throw in. And if you do, make sure you get it down.”

Harrison played seven innings Monday night, starting at second base and batting second, and went 0-for-3 with three flyouts. He came up for his first at-bat, and his classic Curve walk-up song “I’m the Man” did not play. It did play, though, his final two at-bats.

Harrison will be with the Curve a few more days on his rehab assignment, getting today off, then playing all nine innings Wednesday and serving as the DH on Thursday.

After that, Curve manager Michael Ryan said Harrison will be re-evaluated, which could mean he’ll return to the Pirates by this weekend.

To try and protect his left hand, Harrison will wear a protective shield. He said he found one that goes on the hand and won’t affect his grip.

“You start going anything upper body, elbow, hands, it’s a little bit of an adjustment at the plate because we swing with our hands,” Harrison said. “You want to be comfortable, and I think I found something that’s allowed me to be comfortable.”

Harrison crowds the plate and is aggressive going after the ball, two things that make him more prone to getting hit, but he doesn’t plan to change anything about his approach.

“At the end of the day, changing what I do is going to be tough to do; that’s asking somebody to change their strengths,” he said. “I never want to change my strengths to protect a weakness.”

Harrison was a big reason why the Curve won the Eastern League title in 2010, hitting .300 on a team that sent a bunch of quality players to the major leagues. The super utility man has gone on to have an impressive big league career, appearing in two All-Star Games and delivering countless big hits for the Pirates.

In 2010, he wasn’t considered a great prospect, but Harrison turned himself into a productive everyday player.

“I don’t know what you would doubt with J-Hay,” Ryan said. “There’s other guys in there that might not be big enough and might not be strong enough, and you use that as a chip on their shoulder. … The energy that J-Hay plays with is contagious, and it’s one of those guys that you have to have on your club and guys that you love watching play.”