Pirates won't rush Harrison, Mercer

Injured infielders begin rehab assignments at Indianapolis

Pirates won't rush Harrison, Mercer

ST. LOUIS -- Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, the regular left side of the Bucs' infield, were both in Indianapolis on Tuesday to begin rehabs from a torn left thumb ligament and a sprained left knee, respectively. Minor League rehab stints for position players are capped at 20 days, a limit the pair would thus hit on Sept. 1, when big league rosters expand.

Coincidence?

Actually, yes. Earlier returns would pose serious roster/playing time issues, but, as Clint Hurdle said, "What manager wouldn't want more, better players on his team?"

In addition, Hurdle can't minimize how important Harrison and Mercer were in setting this season into motion and, in fact, acknowledged, "We've mapped out something that can get them back well before Sept. 1. But you've also got the 20 days for these things."

All that said, it still would not be an upset to not see either until roster expansion. Shortstop Jung Ho Kang has been a firebrand, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez is getting untracked, thus urgency is not a factor. First and foremost, Harrison and Mercer are recovering from serious injuries.

"I told them, 'The challenge faced by every player in rehab is to fight the urge to just get back to the big leagues, and [to get] back ready.' Both are in tune with that," Hurdle said. "I don't anticipate [their rehabs] being short; that doesn't make sense with the time they've been out."

Since Harrison sustained his injury on a slide on July 5, the Bucs have played .643 ball. Since Mercer joined Harrison on the disabled list on July 19, they've played even better, at .667.

The Pirates thus can be patient and thorough, making certain neither player is plugged back in until he feels ready and looks ready.

"We'll listen to how they feel. They need to have a voice," said Hurdle before quickly deferring to Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar and its manager. "[Dean] Treanor has been so good for us, giving us a read on players. We'll get [Harrison and Mercer] up here when they're ready to be up here."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.