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Harrison marks 30th birthday and 20th HBP

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Josh Harrison's walk around the clubhouse on Saturday came with a warm reception.

With Harrison celebrating his 30th birthday, a message scrawled across a whiteboard in the visitors' clubhouse wished him a happy birthday, as did several of his teammates. He responded with a host of jokes about his advanced age, giving some of the assistant coaches a hard time about joining them as the oldest in the clubhouse.

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CHICAGO -- Josh Harrison's walk around the clubhouse on Saturday came with a warm reception.

With Harrison celebrating his 30th birthday, a message scrawled across a whiteboard in the visitors' clubhouse wished him a happy birthday, as did several of his teammates. He responded with a host of jokes about his advanced age, giving some of the assistant coaches a hard time about joining them as the oldest in the clubhouse.

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The grandest gesture, however, came from his wife. She assembled a group of friends and family to surprise him in Chicago on Friday, taking him out to a postgame dinner at RPM Steak.

"Like 40 people," Harrison said with a smile. "She got me good."

But while the 30-year milestone came with a bunch of smiles, another he hit -- or more accurately, was hit by -- generated less enthusiasm.

During Friday's 6-1 loss to the Cubs, Harrison was hit by a pitch for the 20th time in 2017. The 20 HBPs are a Major League high and the fifth most before the All-Star break in MLB history.

"Yeah, No. 20. Who's counting, though?" Harrison joked. "The technique, I couldn't tell you the technique. I really do not like getting hit, to be honest."

Harrison was a good sport about it, playfully noting that it feels as though at times he has radar locked in on him. He was asked about Ron Hunt, the only player since 1900 to be hit by more than 50 pitches in a season, and made it clear he's not looking to join him.

"Ron Hunt can have it. Ron Hunt can have it," Harrison joked. "I can't remember who they told me has the Pirates' [record]. I said, 'They can keep that one, too.' I have no intentions of trying to break into the record book in that regard."

Still, with 20 plunkings on the season -- the most by a Pirate before the All-Star break since 1997, when Jason Kendall was hit by 21 -- Harrison has become the resident expert on the topic.

And although the 90-mph four-seamer that caught him in the back on Friday didn't quite spoil his birthday, it wasn't the type of pitch he'd prefer to be hit by either, if there is such a thing.

"One that doesn't hit you. One that gets the jersey," Harrison said. "Anything that hits body, I'm not made of steel, so I try to stay away from those."

Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison