Pirates’ Josh Harrison opens up about breaking his slump

July 14, 2018

Pirates second baseman Josh harrison makes a diving stop on a ball hit by the Nationals' Juan Soto during the fifth inning Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at PNC Park.

Manager Clint Hurdle was tight-lipped on what Josh Harrison was doing to break out of his slump. Harrison, it turns out, just had to open up about it.

His batting stance, that is.

“Being open is always where I’ve been the last couple years; I took it upon myself to do something stupid and close my stance to protect my hand,” Harrison said after Thursday’s game in which he went 2 for 2 with two walks, a run and an RBI in a Pirates’ win.

Harrison missed 30 games from April 16-May 20 because of a left hand fracture.

“Came back, and I was cool - but once I started getting healthy my body was like, ‘All right, you need to go back open.’ I’d say it’s just like riding a bike, but I can’t ride a bike, so it took me a little longer than expected.”

Harrison entered Thursday mired in a 20-game slump in which he had just two extra-base hits, a .177 average and .388 OPS since June 17. He was 2 for 16 with seven strikeouts his previous five games, and Hurdle dropped him down in the batting order to seventh after he’d spent the season in one of the top three spots.

Thursday, he was back in the leadoff role - and back to producing the way he was early in the season. Harrison had an .830 OPS over the first 10 games of the season. Then, he broke his hand April 15 in Miami.

“When I came back I kind of changed my stance, and (now he’s) gone back to open,” Harrison said. “Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t and it puts us in a spot where we don’t want to be. Granted, I was doing it to protect my hand, but no excuse.

“I was just missing pitches. That’s baseball. You don’t get the results when you miss pitches. (Thursday) was just a case of me getting pitches. I’ve been getting those pitches the past couple of weeks and been fouling them off, so the work I’ve been putting in has definitely been paying off.”

Harrison was back in the No. 7 spot in the order for Friday’s game against Milwaukee.

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