Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Harrison Enjoys Comforts of Home and Starting Role

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Harrison Enjoys Comforts of Home and Starting Role

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI - Growing up, Josh Harrison never attended opening day. He always had games of his own to play, and, with two older brothers in school, the Harrison clan's absence the first Monday of April would raise eyebrows.

Monday, he made his first appearance in an opening-day lineup at the start of his fifth season in the majors, and he did it at Great American Ball Park in front of friends and family.

"For it to be opening up in Cincinnati for my first opening-day start, they don't have to worry about coming to Pitt or if we're on the road - well, we are on the road, but it's home," said Harrison, who attended Cincinnati's Princeton High School, 17 miles north on I-75 from Great American Ball Park, before going to the University of Cincinnati.

Harrison opened the season as the Pirates' regular third baseman. He earned the position partly because of his play in 2014 - a .315 average, .347 on-base percentage, .490 slugging percentage, 13 homers, 38 doubles and 18 steals - and partly because Pedro Alvarez's arm forced him from third to first. While Harrison played five positions last season while earning regular playing time, he maintained a different mindset.

"I don't want to speak in a broad term, but, typically, utility role is considered of a guy who can play multiple positions but can't hit," Harrison said. "I'm a guy that can play multiple positions and I can hit. I can play this game. I can also play one position."

Harrison played second and third base in 2011, his rookie season. He added shortstop and right field the next year. In 2014, he filled in wherever needed: Right field when Jose Tabata and Travis Snider were not producing, left field when Starling Marte was slumping or hurt, second base when Neil Walker was out, third base when Alvarez moved to first.

"It's a tribute to dedication, hard work, perseverance on Josh's part," manager Clint Hurdle said. …

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