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Pirates notebook: Harrison 'still recovering' from 4 straight plunks

| Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:58 p.m.
The Pirates' Josh Harrison grimaces after being hit by a pitch during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, April 17, 2017, in St. Louis.
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The Cardinals' Matt Carpenter slides to force out the Pirates' Gregory Polanco to end the eighth inning April 19, 2017, in St Louis.

ST. LOUIS — During the Pirates' just-complete road trip to Chicago and St. Louis, Josh Harrison made history.

“Not the kind we like, though,” Harrison said. “I'm still recovering.”

Harrison was hit by pitches in his final two plate appearances Sunday against the Cubs and in his first two trips to the plate Monday against the Cardinals.

“I told (Francisco) Cervelli I might go up to bat wearing one of his catcher's shinguards,” Harrison joked.

The Elias Sports Bureau couldn't come up with another instance in modern MLB history when a player was plunked four times in a row.

“I was more in disbelief than anything,” Harrison said. “One or two is like, OK. Then with the third one, I was like, I've never had that happen before. The fourth was just like, this has got to be a movie. I guess that's why baseball is the way it is. You can never be too sure about anything.”

Harrison absorbed three balls off his calves and one off his left quad.

“They're trying to take out my lower extremities,” Harrison said, grinning. “Trying to keep me from running.”

The culprits were Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, Cubs righty reliever Justin Grimm and Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn.

In his third plate appearance Monday, Harrison took a ball way outside, then grounded out.

“Lance Lynn was like, ‘You all right?' I said, ‘I'm good,' ” Harrison said. “It wasn't nearly as bad as the one that got me at home.”

On April 9, during the game against the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park, Harrison was clipped by a fastball on his back leg.

“That one hurt. I don't even know why I stayed in the game,” he said.

Harrison was hit by pitches five times last season. Through the first 15 games this year, he's collected six HBP.

It's the most a Pirate has been drilled in the first month of a season since Jason Kendall was hit seven times in April 1998.

Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs is the last player to be hit seven times in April (2015). Shin-Soo Choo holds the April mark with 10 HBP in 2013 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds.

“I can't say why it happens like that sometimes,” Harrison said. “But I will tell you, I don't like getting hit. I'm doing everything I can to get out of the way. Sometimes, though, they've got radar on you and you can't dodge it.”

Right-field formula

Manager Clint Hurdle indicated he'd prefer to keep Gregory Polanco grounded in left field and come up with fill-ins for right field while Starling Marte serves his 80-game suspension for PED use.

“I'm thinking through some things right now,” Hurdle said. “Analytically, skill-wise, on paper, our best healthy left fielder is Polanco. How that plays out, we're going to have to wait and see. Polanco has been dinged up. He feels healthy now, so we'll see where he can take this.”

On Wednesday, John Jaso made his first big league start in right. Adam Frazier, Josh Harrison and Jose Osuna also are options for the outfield. Hurdle has not settled on any single formula for determining who plays when.

“I'm open-minded right now,” Hurdle said. “We'll look at the matchup with the pitcher of the day. We'll look at how we set up our lineup. If it's a left-handed pitcher, it could be a different opportunity, and maybe Osuna is out there.”

Nicasio a new Pens fan

There is only one ice rink in Juan Nicasio's home country, the Dominican Republic. It's located in the capital city of Santo Domingo, but there are no organized hockey teams there.

Yet, Nicasio is intrigued by hockey. He attended his first NHL game last week in Chicago and will be at the Penguins playoff game tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena.

“I only know when they score,” said Nicasio, who relies on Adam Frazier to explain the action on the ice. “It's fun to watch, though. Very fast. And they fight all the time.”

Nicasio bought a Blackhawks jersey last week because he found it to be too chilly inside the United Center. He plans to stock up on Penguins gear before Thursday's game.

“I'll get a jersey and a T-shirt, too,” Nicasio said. “I play in Pittsburgh, so I'll follow the Penguins now.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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