Josh Harrison Happy To Be Fulfilling Former Manager's Dream With Tigers

"Oh yeah, I know he was a big fan of the Old English D," Harrison smiled.

Will Burchfield
April 16, 2019 - 6:25 pm

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer spent much of batting practice Tuesday afternoon dolling out hugs and high fives by the visitor's dugout at Comerica Park. 

The Pirates are in town for a two-game series, which gives the two a chance to catch up with old friends. Prior to this season, Pittsburgh was the only big-league club Harrison and Mercer ever knew. 

The longtime teammates both signed with the Tigers in the offseason, a double-play tandem connected at the hip. 

For Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who had Harrison and Mercer for seven years together in Pittsburgh, it's a slight source of envy. 

“They’re fulfilling a life-long dream of mine to play for the Tigers with that Old English D. As a kid growing up in Michigan, listening to Ernie Harwell and your favorite player ever being Al Kaline, it’s pretty cool," the Big Rapids native said this spring, via "They landed in a good spot." 

Harrison flashed a smile when told on Tuesday about Hurdle's comments. He was already well aware of his former skipper's love for his new team. 

"Oh yeah, I know he was a big fan of the Old English D. We talk about it, and you appreciate history and where you've come from. But I'm a Detroit Tiger, so those guys are my enemies. They're my friends at the end of the day, but in between those white lines they're my enemy right now," Harrison said. "Trying to take away any hits I can, trying to get as many runs scored as a team.

"Those my guys, I love 'em -- but you know what? Life moves on."

Harrison was something of a Tigers fan himself growing up. They were his favorite team to play with on the video game Sports Talk Baseball, and he wore No. 1 those days because of Lou Whitaker. Now he wears No. 1 in Detroit. 

The second baseman was set to lead off for the Tigers Tuesday night, as he has all season. He's hitting just .135 through 13 games, but providing strong defense and a consistently upbeat attitude in the clubhouse. 

He's already a favorite of his new skipper, Ron Gardenhire. In fact, when the Tigers and Pirates met in spring training, Gardenhire sauntered over to Pittsburgh's dugout and personally thanked Hurdle, he said with a smile, "for giving us his middle infield." 

Mercer won't play against his former team on this occasion. The shortstop was placed on the 10-day injured list over the weekend with a quad injury. Like Harrison, Mercer's off to a slow start at the plate, but making his presence felt with his glove. 

Harrison, meanwhile, has been battling a shoulder issue. He sat out Sunday's loss to the Twins, but said he's ready to go as the Tigers open a six-game homestand. 

"Feel a lot better. Day off yesterday gave me a chance to get some treatment. I play hard, man, and sometimes you're going to play hard and get banged up," said Harrison.