Pirates infielder Josh Harrison is off the disabled list and back on the active roster after missing the past six weeks with a torn thumb ligament.
Before the injury Harrison was having a rough season, following up last year’s All-Star campaign by hitting just .279 with four homers and a .696 OPS that represents a 141-point drop from 2014. He went just 1-for-19 on a minor-league rehab assignment, but was able to convince the Pirates that he’s ready to play.
His return to the lineup at third base likely means July trade pickup and career-long third baseman Aramis Ramirez will regularly shift across the diamond to first base, cutting into Pedro Alvarez’s playing time significantly. Harrison may also see some time at second base in place of Neil Walker.
Some reinforcements are on the way for the Wild Card-leading Pirates, as manager Clint Hurdle told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this afternoon that both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer could return from the disabled list for this weekend’s series against the Giants.
Harrison, who has been out since since July 5 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, is 1-for-19 (.053) over his first five minor league rehab games with Triple-A Indianapolis. Mercer, out since July 19 with a MCL sprain in his left knee and a leg contusion, is 3-for-17 (.176) through five games.
The Pirates are going to have a bit of a log jam when Harrison and Mercer return, as Aramis Ramirez and Jung Ho Kang have held down the left side of the infield of late. But it’s nice to have options. Harrison can also play the outfield if need be.
The Pirates enter play tonight at 71-47, four games in front of the Cubs for the first Wild Card spot and five games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.
Via our own Craig Calcaterra–who took off early today to see “Ant Man” and is still breaking news–the Pirates have acquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers.
Ramirez began his career in Pittsburgh, debuting in 1998 as a 20-year-old and playing six seasons for the Pirates. He returns at age 37 with the hopes of putting together a good second half before potentially retiring after the season.
Ramirez was long one of the best, most underrated right-handed hitters in baseball, but he’s hit just .247 with 11 homers and a .725 OPS in 81 games this season. Of course, even that modest production would help the Pirates with infielders Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the disabled list.
In exchange for Ramirez the Brewers receive minor leaguer Yhonathan Barrios, a 23-year-old converted infielder now pitching at Triple-A as a reliever with modest success.
I hope Calcaterra bought himself a large popcorn with extra butter or something.
UPDATE: The Pirates placed Jordy Mercer on the 15-day disabled list with a lower leg contusion and MCL sprain. As expected, Brent Morel has been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.
9:08 AM: Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was injured in yesterday’s loss to the Brewers when Carlos Gomez slid into him in the second inning while trying to break up a double play. It appears that Gomez and Mercer’s knees collided. Mercer was taken off the field on a cart. Mercer is back in Pittsburgh today to have his knee looked at.
No one seems to have taken issue with the slide. Clint Hurdle said after the game yesterday that it was a “baseball play,” even if it was a hard one. Gomez, for his part, tweeted out his thoughts after the game:
Jung Ho Kang, who has been starting at third lately for the injured Josh Harrison, will take over at shortstop while Mercer is out. Kang says he is comfortable with the switch given that he played most of his time at short while in Korea. Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are likely to make a roster move today before the game, probably calling up Brent Morel, who can play third base.
If you have an infielder to shop, you may want to call the Pirates.
Per beat writer Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review …
Revere has turned things around after a really rough start to the 2015 season and enters play Sunday with a respectable .294/.335/.377 slash line. He also has 21 stolen bases in 26 tries. As noted by Biertempfel, the 27-year-old Revere could operate as a fill-in at leadoff for the Bucs until Josh Harrison returns from a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb and then slide into a pinch-running role down the stretch. The interest in Francoeur is a little harder to understand. He’s batting just .246 with a .688 OPS (89 OPS+).
Pittsburgh currently boasts the second-best record in the National League at 52-35.