Bucs to keep hot-hitting Harrison in utility role

Bucs to keep hot-hitting Harrison in utility role

PITTSBURGH -- As Josh Harrison keeps getting hotter -- he's 5-for-11 in his last three games and has a hit in eight of his last nine -- Pirates brass keeps telling fans to chill.

Both manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington like Harrison right where he is, as a super utility man liable to pop up anywhere on the field. So notwithstanding his .306 average and .811 OPS, Harrison isn't replacing any regular.

In the lineup, that is. In recognition of his contributions, however, Harrison is about to give Andrew McCutchen a significant bump.

McCutchen has been the club's nominee the past two seasons for the Heart & Hustle Award, presented since 2005 by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to players "who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game."

That's Harrison all right, Hurdle said the other day with a knowing wink.

"One guy has always been our candidate, but we might have a different guy this year," Hurdle said. "This is the players' own thing, and they're using a different lens this year. We've sent Andrew out to be the guy, this year there may be a different sheriff in town."

Harrison is now popularly regarded as a player who found his mojo out of nowhere. "What's gotten into him?" is the frequent question.

Insiders know Harrison is the same guy as always, just getting more opportunities to be that guy.

"The great thing is, he's always played the game this way, he's just getting on the field to do it more often," Hurdle said. "There's a hunger there that's significant. He plays with an edge."

Harrison has clearly given the Bucs that edge. Since Harrison became a revolving regular on May 18, the Pirates are 25-15.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.