Pirates notebook: Josh Harrison has broken hand, out six weeks
The Pirates are gearing up to face their first roadblock of the season.
After starting 11-4 and leading the National League Central by 21⁄2 games over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates learned Monday that leadoff hitter and second baseman Josh Harrison will miss approximately the next six weeks with a broken left hand.
"The men in the locker room have been through this before. It's part of the game," said manager Clint Hurdle, who put Adam Frazier in Harrison's leadoff spot and at second base for Monday's game against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.
"The longer you let it deflate (the team's mindset), it doesn't do any good,"
Harrison was hit by a 96 mph pitch from the Miami Marlins' Jose Urena on Sunday. Harrison was examined Monday by Allegheny Health Network hand specialist Ed Birdsong, who discovered a fracture to the fifth metacarpal.
The injury is to the same hand — "Same bone ... same spot," said Pirates' director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk — that was broken when it was hit by a pitch Sept. 2 last year. That injury forced Harrison to miss the final month of the season.
"The bone was healed. The bone was calcified, everything you wanted to see. It's very rare," Tomczyk said of the identical recurrence.
When Harrison returns, the Pirates medical staff hopes to have protection he can wear to prevent the same spot from being susceptible to another errant pitch.
Harrison was hit by a pitch 23 times last season, only three fewer than in his previous six seasons combined. The pitch from Urena was Harrison's first HBP this season.
To keep the roster composition the way the team prefers it — eight relief pitchers, four backup bench players — the Pirates called up infielder Max Moroff from Class AAA Indianapolis. Harrison was placed on the 10-day disabled list.
Moroff, who played shortstop, second and third base for the Pirates last season, could help as a pinch-hitter. He hit .200 for the season but .278 over the final 34 games.
He was hitting .280 with five RBIs at Indianapolis, where he also was used as a designated hitter.
Hurdle said the roster adjustment might allow him "to get creative" and move someone other than the left-handed hitting Frazier into the leadoff spot against left-handers. He declined to get specific with his plans until he speaks to the players.
Frazier has only two at-bats against left-handers this season. He's hitting .269, with a home run and two RBIs against right-handers.
Harrison is batting .263, with one home run, five RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Romero joins team
The Pirates also welcomed left-handed relief pitcher Enny Romero to the clubhouse after he was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals on Saturday. Dovydas Neverauskas, who allowed 11 hits and eight runs over 61⁄3 innings, was optioned to Indianapolis.
Romero pitched in only two games and two innings for the Nationals this season, posting a 13.50 ERA. He has been in the majors since 2013 and recorded three saves in 105 appearances with the Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays over the previous two seasons.
He said he's friends with Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez from their time in the Tampa Bay organization and hopes to learn from him, especially "his nasty changeup." Before Romero arrived, Vazquez was the only left-hander in the bullpen.
With the Pirates, he might work in long relief. He said he's capable of pitching "two or three" innings at a time.
"High velocity (95-97 mph), shown the ability to have some success at the major-league level, takes the ball regularly," Hurdle said of Romero.
"There have been situations where his pitch sequence has been very good, his pitch efficiency has been very good. There are other times when the command hasn't been what it needs to be to be really effective. The ability to pitch in the middle intrigues us."
Hurdle said Joe Musgrove, who hasn't pitched because of shoulder soreness, "had a very good workout" Monday.
"Joe was able to throw, long toss. There also may be a "bullpen (session) Thursday."
Murrysville native and Franklin Regional graduate Jeremie Rehak was the first-base umpire Monday. He is on the majors' list of replacement umpires called into a duty when a regular gets a series off.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.