Osuna vying for backup corner infield spot

September 2nd, 2018

ATLANTA -- Last year, joined the Pirates in mid-April and never went back to the Minors. This year has not been nearly so smooth for the 25-year-old infielder.

On Saturday, the Pirates recalled Osuna from Triple-A Indianapolis for the fifth and final time this season. With rosters expanded and traded to Los Angeles, Osuna has a legitimate chance to claim a regular spot as Pittsburgh's backup corner infielder heading into next year.

"It's good. I'm here now to help the team," Osuna said. "I have to play hard and be ready when they give me an opportunity to play. I will have a little bit more of a chance to play this month, so that's good. I have to show what I can do to help the team, to win games."

Osuna is a natural first baseman, and he's worked at third base for more than a year. He's also a right-handed hitter, like Freese, who can complement lefty-hitting third baseman and switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell.

Osuna said he feels ready to play third base in the Majors after making his final 13 starts there in Triple-A. He played 47 games at third base, 24 at first and nine in right field for Indianapolis. The Pirates will face Reds left-hander on Tuesday, which could be a chance for Osuna to start.

The problem for Osuna is a common one. He thrived as an everyday player in Triple-A, hitting .321/.378/.497 with nine homers in 342 plate appearances. As a part-time player in Pittsburgh over the past two years, he's hit just .223/.254/.406 with nine homers in 291 plate appearances.

"We all have known what Jose's been able to do in Triple-A. That's been one of his challenges, figuring out how to come up here and find the time when the time maybe hasn't been available," manager Clint Hurdle said. "So we're hoping to provide a little better opportunity this time."

Still, Osuna will have to get comfortable pinch-hitting and playing on an infrequent basis, two things that come with the job for any bench player. Osuna entered Sunday with 10 hits, including two homers, in 70 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.

"I think the most important thing is to be ready on the first pitch," Osuna said. "As an everyday player, you have a routine. Sometimes you take a first pitch. Now, I can take a first pitch [as a pinch-hitter], and you never know if that's the only pitch you'll have to hit."

Around the horn

The Pirates traded Freese and shortstop on Friday night, but they did not move second baseman Josh Harrison, who reportedly cleared revocable waivers. Harrison, playing through a sore left hamstring he strained in July, has started only three of Pittsburgh's last 14 games.

"It's not anything that I ever really worried about," Harrison said when asked about the waiver-trade process. "Honestly, my main objective is to finish the season healthy. For me, nothing was on the forefront of my mind other than going out there and, anytime that I'm out there, making sure that I stay healthy."

• Right-hander , who will start Monday's 1:35 p.m. ET series opener, flew back to Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon so he is rested despite a quick turnaround for the rest of the team.

• First baseman Will Craig, Pittsburgh's No. 16 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, recorded his 100th RBI of the season on Saturday night for Double-A Altoona. The former first-round Draft pick is the first Pirates Minor Leaguer to drive in 100 runs in a season since Quincy Latimore did so in 2010. Adam Hyzdu holds the Altoona franchise RBI record with 106 in '00.