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Altoona brings back great memories for Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Josh Harrison

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For Josh Harrison being back in an Altoona Curve uniform has brought back a flood of memories. Harrison, who spent the 2010 season with the Curve on his journey to the big leagues, was a member of the first Eastern League Championship team in the organization’s history.

“You can’t say 2010 without mentioning the championship,” a reflective Harrison said following his seven innings of work tonight. “It was a good time, a lot of us still talk about it today.”

 

Those moments in 2010 cause Harrison to reflect upon arriving at the stadium today, taking in all aspects of People’s Natural Gas Field prior to the game. Making sure he remembered where everything was was high on his agenda once he arrived as well as making sure the notorious roller coaster in left field was present as well.

“Definitely pulling up and noticing the roller coaster was still out there,” Harrison said. “Walking in here and seeing what was different in the clubhouse, you know, just trying to remember where everything was.”

And while the memories will always be here it’s safe to say Harrison is in a place where he doesn’t quite want to be, on a rehab assignment.

New year, same injury

It’s no secret pitchers love to throw Josh Harrison inside and his statistics show as much as the second baseman got hit 23 times in 2017 with his lone hit-by-pitch in 2018 being the one which put him on the disabled list and in Altoona Monday night. But why of all people, does Josh Harrison get hit so much?

“Pitchers try to attack me in and nowadays its a lot more throwers than pitchers,” Harrison said. “YOu got some pitchers but you’ve got a lot of guys being rushed up that throw hard that necessarily can’t control where the ball is going.”

Being hit so often could be viewed in different parameters, however, when it’s put you on the shelf for an extended period of time twice in as many years it could very well make some one bitter, but for Harrison that’s not the way he sees it.

“It’s part of the game, but at the same time it’s our livelihood at the plate,” Harrison said.

And while it’s a part of the game for Harrison, being hit still frustrates him especially after it’s limited his gameplay the last two seasons.

“These were the only two times I’ve been hit on the hands, and very frustrating, cause for it to be the first two times, both have knocked me out for significant time,” Harrison said.

With that said, Harrison does have a message to pitchers who continuously throw inside, but might not be able to control it.

“If you can’t throw in, don’t throw in. If you do make sure you get it down,” Harrison said.

Back in game mode

Now with a game under his belt a sense of normalcy has overcome Harrison who’s been tracking pitches during bullpens with pitchers as well as taking batting practice in Pittsburgh during his time on the disabled list. However, none of those things are quite the same as game action and live pitching.

“It felt good. It’s been awhile. You can simulate things doing velocity machine, curve ball machine, but actually being able to get out there and have game-like situations,” Harrison said. “I’ve stood in on some bullpens and that’s still not the same even though I’m seeing pitches, I’m not swinging. It’s a little different adrenaline.”

With that adrenaline flowing and game action finally taking place, it’s less about results for Harrison as he spends time in Altoona and more about getting back in game mode.

“Results don’t really matter,” Harrison said. “It’s more so, it’s been four weeks since I’ve gotten any game action, just trying to get my bearings straight out in the field, at the plate, things you can’t practice while you’re on the DL.”

The biggest difference between the injuries is that this year’s injury happened early enough in the season for Harrison to return to the team whereas last year’s ended his season abruptly.

“I never want to have to go on a rehab stint, but it’s different than last year, I get to come back,” Harrison said.

What’s Next?

Step one is down for Harrison, but where it gets tricky is where Harrison goes next. According to Curve manager Michael Ryan the plan is for Harrison to take the day off Tuesday and DH on Wednesday followed by a full nine inning game Thursday. After Thursday it’s up in the air, but Harrison isn’t planning on staying in Altoona very long.

“I can tell you it won’t be long, but I’m not done today,”

With multiple injuries to the same area of the hand, Harrison is trying to minimize changes in his stance as far as where his hands are and found a protective piece that is comfortable enough to try out during his stint in Altoona. With that though, there are some adjustments and growing pains that come along with the new gear.

“It kinda goes on the fly, anytime you’re dealing with shin guards it doesn’t really bother you, you start going anything upper body, elbow, hands, it’s a little bit of an adjustment at the plate cause I mean we swing with our hands,” Harrison said. “Gripping everything is something you don’t want to compromise, you want to be comfortable and I think I found something that’s allowed me to be comfortable.”

As far as changes go to Harrison’s swing, footwork, or hands, don’t be shocked if there’s not a difference along those lines once he returns to the Steel City. Harrison has always gone about his business his way and he’s not about to let pitchers dictate his game or the way he plays.

“I’ve always played the game the way that I do, and I let my game speak for itself” Harrison said. “I might not have been a highly touted prospect, but like I said, I let my game speak for itself. At the end of the day if people notice that’s fine, but all I can control is me.”

The Curve team surrounding Josh Harrison in the line up brings a bevy of talent to the ballpark every day and for those guys, Harrison’s message is simple, all you can control is yourself and nothing else matters.

“Don’t worry about what anybody says, all you gotta worry about is you,” Harrison said. “At the end of the day nobody can control what I do other than me. So for me to focus energy on somebody who thinks I’m not anything or this or that. I don’t feed into anybody that doesn’t know me. As long as I come in everyday and be the best Josh Harrison I know I’m bringing what I can to the team and if everybody does that I think that makes good teams.”

 

Jarrod Prugar has rebounded from being the first person ever thrown out of a Three Rivers Classic to cover the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and the 2017 Eastern League Championship. A 2013 graduate of Robert Morris University, Jarrod currently resides in Altoona where he works as a Recreation professional. He also coaches baseball and football at the middle school level. Along with his Altoona Curve coverage, Jarrod's work can be found at Pittsburgh Sports Report where he covers Penn State athletics. Jarrod also co-hosts Clear the Deck on Locked On Pirates.

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All that and more on the latest episode of Locked on Pirates, live for your listening pleasure:

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Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

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We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

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Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

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In the return of Locked on Pirates and the Locked on Pirates interview, Alex Stumpf talks the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates draft with 2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff. Together the duo go through the 2018 Pirates draft and talk about some of the lesser-known prospects for the West Virginia Power.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Beginning with Opening Day, Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the buttons below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

 

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