Mehno: Harrison fills plenty of roles for Pirates

PITTSBURGH – Taking a quick trip among the three pro teams:

n Pirates: Josh Harrison has given this team a boost and deserves to stay in the lineup as long as he has a hot bat.

But full-time duty? Don’t get carried away. As much as some people think he’s the answer to the poor offense at shortstop, he would seriously downgrade the defense at the most important position in the infield.

Harrison can be plugged in at second or third base now and then. He can play the corner outfield positions, although the spacious left field at PNC Park is a challenge.

That’s the answer for Harrison. Play him here and there, but don’t overexpose him. Gregory Polanco will soon be coming up to play right field. He’ll need an occasional day off in his first exposure to major league competition, and that’s a spot for Harrison.

He can get spot duty at second and third, too. He can come off the bench as a pinch hitter. He can be part of late-inning double switches because of his versatility.

Harrison is growing into the super utility role, and he’ll be a tremendous asset to the Pirates if he can contribute in that way.

n Steelers: OTAs (that’s organized team activities) have started at the team’s training complex. Participation is voluntary, and Troy Polamalu has opted out.

He usually skips the workouts, sticking to his own conditioning plan in California. Usually that’s no problem. Polamalu is a hard worker, so there’s never a concern he’ll take it easy in the offseason.

But it would be good if he reported this week. The Steelers are rebuilding the defense. Polamalu’s long-time partner at safety, Ryan Clark, is gone.

Polamalu and Clark worked together so long that they knew each other’s tendencies. They could communicate almost instinctively, based on their experience working together.

Now Mike Mitchell is taking over Clark’s former spot. It would be helpful if he and Polamalu could spend some time together and get a better understanding of each others’ game.

After consecutive 8-8 records and non-playoff seasons, the Steelers need to do things differently. They need to do them better, too.

n Penguins: Still no word on a new general manager or on the fate of coach Dan Bylsma. The latest rumor is that ownership wouldn’t be opposed in the new GM decided to bring Bylsma back.

That would be a mistake. The players aren’t hearing Bylsma anymore. His methods and messages are stale for this group.

Mehno can be reached at