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Harrison grateful for 2nd Midsummer Classic

Super-utility man 'grateful for opportunity' to play in second Midsummer Classic
MLB.com

MIAMI -- Seated along the warning track at Marlins Park on Monday afternoon, Josh Harrison looked like he belonged. He wore his All-Star cap backward and crossed his arms on the table in front of him, displaying a black-and-gold patch on his left sleeve with the No. 2 inside a star.

Harrison's first trip to the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a nice story, a former fringe-of-the-roster super-utility man thriving in his first extended opportunity to play every day for a postseason-bound team. He has since become one of the Pirates' core players, a World Baseball Classic gold medalist with Team USA, and now, a two-time All-Star.

MIAMI -- Seated along the warning track at Marlins Park on Monday afternoon, Josh Harrison looked like he belonged. He wore his All-Star cap backward and crossed his arms on the table in front of him, displaying a black-and-gold patch on his left sleeve with the No. 2 inside a star.

Harrison's first trip to the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a nice story, a former fringe-of-the-roster super-utility man thriving in his first extended opportunity to play every day for a postseason-bound team. He has since become one of the Pirates' core players, a World Baseball Classic gold medalist with Team USA, and now, a two-time All-Star.

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"I feel everything happens for a reason. It's not anything that I set out to say, 'I want to do this. I want to do that,'" Harrison said. "I just want to play this game for as long as I can at the highest level possible and to remain healthy. Given that, I'll be able to enjoy this game and some of the perks along with it.

"Truly grateful for this opportunity. I don't take it for granted. I just enjoy it and try to play as long as I can."

Harrison brought his infield and outfield gloves to Marlins Park, just in case his versatility was needed. He entered at second base in the sixth inning and played the final five innings for the National League, as the American League won, 2-1, in 10 innings.

"I'll get in where I fit in," he said.

Video: Josh Harrison is headed to the All-Star Game

Harrison earned his second trip to the All-Star Game by being Pittsburgh's most consistent position player for three months. Before Andrew McCutchen's six-week surge at the plate, there was no question Harrison (2.3 Wins Above Replacement) was the Pirates' most valuable player.

Tweet from @adamdberry: Josh Harrison, two-time All-Star, is in Miami pic.twitter.com/lP1P6z2h9t

Harrison is still bouncing around the field defensively, as he did in his 2014 All-Star campaign, and he began July with a .295 average and .834 OPS. Held back by a left thumb injury the past two years, Harrison entered the break with 10 homers and 10 steals.

Harrison, the Pirates' lone representative in Miami, said he was looking forward to chatting up his fellow All-Stars during their downtime this week. And what if another player asks him about the Major League-leading 20 hit-by-pitches that became the story of his first half?

"I'll be like, 'You know what, if you've got a tip on how not to get hit, that's what I need,'" Harrison said, smiling.

One thing Harrison is better prepared for this time around, he said, is the frenetic pace of the All-Star festivities. He joked that he and his wife, Brittney, were tired for a week after the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota. Their daughter, Mia, was only five months old then. She's now 3, soon to be a big sister and giddy about the chance to watch Monday's Home Run Derby on the field with her dad, the two-time All-Star.

"It's still going to be hectic, but I know how to pace myself now," Harrison said. "The first time, I still didn't know what to expect. … I just know it's going to be a long couple days, but I know where to get my rest in between. It's short, but I know how to manage my time now -- especially with a kid."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison