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.