Pirates notebook: Harrison will play for Team USA in World Baseball Classic
BRADENTON, Fla. — Three days ago, second baseman Josh Harrison saw Jim Leyland on the field before the Pirates played the Detroit Tigers.
“I shook his hand and gave him a hug,” Harrison said. “I didn’t know that wouldn’t be the last time I’ll be seeing him.”
They will be reunited this week when Harrison reports to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. Leyland will manage the team, which also includes Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Harrison was named to the team Saturday in place of St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter, who’s out with a sore back.
Harrison got the news on Friday via a call from MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre.
“It’s an extreme honor,” Harrison said. “I’m definitely excited to put on the colors and play with the rest of the guys.”
Harrison likely will be a utility player with Team USA. Second basemen Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy also are on the roster.
Outfielders Starling Marte (Dominican Republic) and Gregory Polanco, (Dominican Republic), catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) also will play in the 16-team tournament.
Marte, Polanco, Cervelli, Harrison and McCutchen will leave Pirates camp on Monday to join their WBC clubs.
“I’m good. Ready to get to it,” McCutchen said.
Ivan Nova is in the Dominican Republic’s pitchers pool, which means he could be activated in the second round.
Minor leaguers Eric Wood (Canada), Jared Lakind (Israel), Luis Escobar (Columbia) and Sam Street (Australia) also are on WBC rosters.
Jung Ho Kang was kicked off South Korea’s roster in the wake of his arrest in December on drunk-driving charges.
Osuna stays hot
Jose Osuna’s torrid start continued with an RBI single in the first inning of Saturday’s 3-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox. He also drew a walk in the fourth.
Osuna, 24, who plays first base and the outfield, is a long-shot to make the opening day roster. Yet, he still is opening eyes in his first big league camp.
“He’s aggressive in the box,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He seems to be somewhat selective in the strike zone. I love the way he works at first (base). He’s a bigger man with soft feet and good hands, they work well together. He lays out for balls. He’s a ballplayer.”
Hurdle on the clock
Hurdle said he is a “big fan” of the recently adopted rule change that gives managers a 30-second limit to decide whether to challenge a call and ask for a replay review.
The rule will be in place starting opening day, although Hurdle said it might be used in the Pirates’ two exhibition games against the Toronto Blue Jays in Montreal on March 31 and April 1.
The bulletin board in the clubhouse is plastered with workout schedules, lineup cards, pitching plans and other day-to-day camp info. At the bottom of many of those pieces of paper is a phrase that begins “We own vs. Yankees” (or whichever team is that day’s opponent).
The slogan might be cliche, but it is not treated lightly. Every winter, Hurdle and members of the front office, including director of mental conditioning Bernie Holliday, brainstorm a motto for the upcoming season.
“It’s something we needed to do, based on the ground we’ve just covered (the previous season),” Hurdle said. “We felt ownership is the next step for this group collectively.
“To own something is a significant statement. What can you own? What do you need to own? What do you want to own? We’re taking that ownership part and trying to make it real.”