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Pirates notebook: Harrison productivity could benefit Polanco

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 4:39 p.m.

Whenever top prospect Gregory Polanco arrives, Pirates right fielder Josh Harrison will need to find a new home. And that new home could really be many new residences.

General manager Neal Huntington said Harrison has earned consistent playing time going forward, and he could fill a role of super-utility player, not only subbing in at his usual corner outfield spots and third base — where Pedro Alvarez struggles with left-handed pitching — but also at shortstop.

“It's a great problem to have,” Huntington said. “His versatility may allow us to rest some guys, which is a wonderful thing. This has become a game about depth. You look at the A's and some of the better teams out there and they don't have guys playing a 150 games. They move guys around the field, and they are creative with their lineups. This gives us an opportunity to potentially do that. He's earned the opportunity to stay in the lineup.”

Huntington added that the spark Harrison has provided atop the lineup might also allow the club to ease Polanco in at a less pressure-filled spot in the batting order

“It would be a great thing to drop Gregory into a less-demanding role,” Huntington said. “It's what the Cardinals have done for years. Allen Craig and Albert Pujols did not come in and hit fourth. Those Indians clubs I was a part of in the 1990s, Manny Ramirez came up and hit eighth, Jim Thome hit seventh. You put them in a situation where they don't have too much pressure on their shoulders.”

• Huntington offered no clear timetable Sunday for the arrival of Polanco. “Every day that goes by that he continues to be successful gives us that much more comfort. ... In an ideal world we'd like to get him some more plate appearances down there. What he's doing has allowed us to shorten that timeframe.”

• Manager Clint Hurdle said Charlie Morton was moved back a day to Monday so he could have extra time to work on his sinker.

• Hurdle said he planned to give Gaby Sanchez three consecutive starts over Ike Davis at first base, beginning on Sunday. “(Davis) is working on some things. I'm going to give him some time to work on some things.” Davis has cooled in June after a productive May.

— Travis Sawchik

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