Pirates notebook: Harrison keeps sizzling while Alvarez keeps sitting
July 31, 2014 12:00 AM
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Josh Harrison hits a two run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning Wednesday at AT&T Park.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SAN FRANCISCO — Pedro Alvarez was not in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game against a right-handed pitcher, and was replaced by Josh Harrison, who is in the midst of another hot streak.
Alvarez, who made his 23rd error Sunday, is batting .238 with a .406 slugging percentage and .732 OPS. He has not hit a home run since July 11 and has not had a multi-hit game since July 10.
“He just needs to continue to work. We want to help him regain the form on both sides of the ball that he’s shown us in the past,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s pretty simple at the end of the day. He’s not outplaying Harrison. [Travis] Snider is a hot bat in the lineup. Harrison needs to find reps. Pedro will find reps. We’ll get him time.
“… I think we need to pay attention to the whole team and how it functions.”
Hurdle said Alvarez had a lengthy workout session Tuesday and is “absolutely” on the same page as the coaching staff in terms of working to regain his form.
“He’s continuing to work. He spent a big day [Tuesday] early out there, both sides of the ball,” Hurdle said.
Alvarez pinch-hit Wednesday with one out in the ninth inning, but Giants closer Santiago Casilla got him to fly out to left.
After hitting his fourth home run in as many days Wednesday, Harrison has gone 8 for 17 with one double, six RBIs, six runs and two stolen bases in the past four games. His breakout season continues to defy the Pirates’ expectations.
“I didn’t have a crystal ball to say Harrison would make the All-Star team, no, and that he’d be in the position he’s in right now, no,” Hurdle said.
“But by no means did I think, ‘Jeez, is this guy going to hang on? Is he going to run the shuttle again? He’s out of options.’ ”
Harrison is arbitration eligible in 2015 and is not eligible for free agency until 2018.
“I believed it was a big important year for him and for us to evaluate him,” Hurdle said. “I think those two things are in play and we’ve got a much better read on things. To his credit, opportunity presented itself, he’s moved upon it.”
Power when it counts
A day after Harrison hit his eighth home run of the season and hours before he would hit his ninth, Hurdle referred to him and Neil Walker as players who possess “game-time pop.”
“Guys don’t hit homers in batting practice, but they hit ’em in the game,” Hurdle said. “Walker’s got game-time pop. Walker doesn’t hit a lot of home runs in BP, not that he tries to, just the way it plays, he’s got game-time power .
“And we’ve seen his power show up from right-center field to the right-field line now which is probably as impressive as anything.”
Hurdle reflected on the evolution of Tim Lincecum Wednesday before facing him.
“He’s truly a guy who every time he goes out there he’s capable of throwing a no-hitter,” Hurdle said. “The ability to recreate himself over the years. I think I saw one of his first starts when he first entered the league. It was like a whirling dervish on the mound.”
Hurdle said he has been impressed with his maturity and competitiveness.
“He can handle the bat, fields his position. We’ve also watched the maturation process, Hurdle said. “He’s another guy that we’ll talk about you need to out-compete because he’s going to throw it all out there.”
Jenn Menendez email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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