Pirates notebook: Matheny praises Harrison, Watson


ST. LOUIS -- Mike Matheny has seen his share of Josh Harrison. Matheny, who is in his third year as the manager of the division rival St. Louis Cardinals, will manage the National League All-Star team after the Cardinals reached the World Series last season. Seeking to assemble a roster with suitable flexibility, Matheny included Harrison.

"He's had a great year," Matheny said Monday, before the Pirates and Cardinals began a four-game series at Busch Stadium. "Putting together a roster to figure out how can we be covered in as many places as possible and have someone with a lot of versatility, plus has had the kind of season that's worthy of this kind of acknowledgement, he stood out."

Harrison has started at corner outfield, second base and third base this season, both covering for injuries and as manager Clint Hurdle searched for ways to keep Harrison's much-improved bat in the lineup. Entering Monday, Harrison was hitting .298 with a .335 on-base percentage and five home runs.

Matheny also selected Tony Watson, a dominant left-handed reliever who moved permanently into the setup role after the Pirates traded Jason Grilli and gave Mark Melancon the closer's job.

"From the left-handed side, you're going to have a hard time finding anybody that's done a better job than what he's done so far," Matheny said.

Harrison made the team ahead of Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, Miami Marlins infielder Casey McGehee, Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton and Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau. All five have good cases for inclusion, and they are the NL representatives in the final vote.

Though Hurdle is an assistant coach on Matheny's All-Star staff, Matheny said he didn't hear any more lobbying from Hurdle for Pirates players than he received from the rest of the managers in the league.

"The conversations were quick and to the point," Matheny said. "Guys lobbying for their guys that they believe, just from a manager's perspective, 'This is a guy maybe I don't know if you were considering.' But Josh was someone we've been watching close. We see a lot of him, obviously, in this division, too. Both those guys have had good years."

Cole update

Gerrit Cole's bullpen session offered no immediate clarity as to whether he could take his turn in the rotation Wednesday.

Cole, who left his start Friday after five innings because of tightness in the right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back, threw a side session at Busch Stadium. Asked later about Wednesday, Cole said he didn't have an update on his status.

The Pirates could put Cole on the disabled list and have him skip only one start because of the All-Star break. Class AAA Indianapolis right-hander Brandon Cumpton also started Friday, making him available to pitch Wednesday, and he is on the 40-man roster.

Outfielder traded

The Pirates traded Class AAA Indianapolis outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash.

Dickerson, 32, hit .309 with a .407 on-base percentage and seven home runs for Indianapolis this season. The Indians added him to their active roster and started him Monday after Michael Bourn went on the DL. Dickerson told MLB.com he had a July 15 opt-out clause in his contract with the Pirates.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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