Harrison will start series finale today
By John Mehno
For the Mirror
PITTSBURGH — Josh Harrison is scheduled to return to the Pirates’ lineup this afternoon, marking the third consecutive day with a roster move.
Harrison was in the clubhouse Saturday after spending much of the week doing injury rehab work with the Curve.
He has been out since April 15 when a pitch broke a bone in his left hand for the second time in a year.
Harrison has been fitted for a protective pad that he will now wear.
“I used it in a game and it felt natural,” Harrison said. “That’s a step forward, knowing that I can wear it and it’s protecting my hand.”
The Pirates will have to remove a player from the roster to clear a spot for Harrison. The subtraction is expected to come from the 13-man pitching staff.
Nick Kingham was added to the roster on Saturday and started the game against the Padres. His spot opened when infielder Max Moroff was sent back to Class AAA Indianapolis.
The string of moves kicked off on Friday when outfield prospect Austin Meadows was called up to replace Starling Marte, who went on the disabled list.
Meadows went 2-for-4 in his debut Friday night with a stolen base. He impressed manager Clint Hurdle with the calm demeanor he showed in his first game.
However, Hurdle emphasized that it was the ultimate small sample size.
“If you’re just going to evaluate one game, he looked really good last night,” Hurdle said. “We’ll see where that goes, that slow heartbeat you saw last night. Can he be consistent moving forward? We have a lot of confidence in the young man. We’ll give him some opportunities and see how it plays out.”
Meadows again batted seventh and played center field on Saturday.
He’s No. 3
Francisco Cervelli batted third in Saturday’s game, the fourth time in his career he’s occupied that spot in the batting order.
Cervelli batted leadoff for the first time earlier in the homestand.
He could stick in the No. 3 spot for as long as Marte is on the disabled list.
“Cervelli’s on-base numbers have always been good,” Hurdle said. “His numbers against lefthanders the past few years have been extremely good. The OPS this year, the power production has jumped due to health and working over the winter on his swing.
“He can give you some different options in the absence of Marte. There may be a guy for a lefthanded pitcher and there may be a guy for a righthanded pitcher. (Or) Cervelli might be that guy just to hit third while Marte is out.
Hurdle’s preference would seem to be to find one hitter to fill the third spot.
“I’m still wary of moving guys around,” he said.
Cervelli usually rests when there’s a day game after a night game. He could start this afternoon’s homestand finale against the Padres since the Pirates have an open date on Monday.
Closer Felipe Vazquez has become the Pirates’ clubhouse DJ, handling the music after the team wins.
He’s added to his presentation. His gear is now equipped with lights and a smoke machine to augment the audio choices.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org