PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before their 8-5 loss to the Padres at PNC Park on Sunday. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham to Triple-A Indianapolis.Harrison made an instant impact
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.
The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before their 8-5 loss to the Padres at PNC Park on Sunday. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Harrison made an instant impact in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a double and a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning before the Pirates unraveled in the ninth. Suffice it to say he was ready to get back on the field after five weeks away.
"Oh, it sucked. But that's the past," Harrison said, smiling. "We're here now. Glad to be back."
Harrison had been sidelined since April 15 by a fractured left hand, which he sustained when he was hit by a Jose Urena fastball at Marlins Park. The Pirates went 15-15 during his absence -- using Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez and Max Moroff at second base, while experimenting with a number of different leadoff hitters.
Harrison hit .263/.328/.351 with a home run and five RBIs in 14 games before the injury. After a brief Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona, he rejoined the Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday.
"He's one of our best players," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He helps us on both sides of the ball. He helps us in the clubhouse. He helps us in everything we do."
Sending out Kingham was not an easy decision for the Pirates, especially after he showed his stuff and resiliency in a quality start against the Padres on Saturday night. Kingham carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his Major League debut on April 29, earning another start and beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on May 4. Kingham went to Triple-A and down to Double-A to stay in line for Saturday's spot start, only to be optioned back to Indianapolis.
"Nick continues to be very professional in everything that he does and everything that he touches. He understands the roster, the way it's set up to work right now," Hurdle said. "Obviously he's done everything he can do to keep himself fresh in our minds as we move forward. Whether there's injury, performance, whatever it might be, he's shown the ability to pitch at this level."
The Pirates will fill Kingham's spot in the rotation with right-hander Joe Musgrove, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list and join Pittsburgh's staff Friday against the Cardinals at PNC Park. Musgrove has not pitched for the Bucs this season due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder, so this will be the first time the Pirates see the rotation they envisioned entering Spring Training.
"He's put in the work. He's to that point where he's ready to go," Hurdle said. "He put himself in the best position that he can be in to have success when he goes out there for the team. I look forward to that as well."
To make room for Musgrove, the Pirates will have to make another move in the coming days. With Harrison back and Kingham sent down, they are carrying a five-man bench and an eight-man bullpen to complement their four-man rotation. When Musgrove returns, they could drop a reliever or use a short bench as they did earlier this season.
"The comfort at this point is still 13 pitchers overall, eight relievers. That may change as we get Musgrove active," general manager Neal Huntington said. "That may change a week or two weeks after Musgrove gets active. There's a lot of baseball to play between now and then."
Around the horn
• Center fielder Starling Marte (right oblique strain) said Sunday he is feeling better but not yet taking part in any baseball activities. Marte noted that his injury is not as painful as the one he endured in 2012 and agreed with Hurdle's assessment that it won't require a long stay on the disabled list.
"I believe we're going to be able to bounce back right away," Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "I just need to continue to work with my trainers, submit to them and what they have in store for me, and I should be back as soon as possible."
• Infielder Jungho Kang has played in three extended spring camp games in Bradenton, Fla., Huntington said. Kang recently progressed to playing seven innings after a pair of five-inning appearances. Kang homered in his last game, Huntington said. He is playing third base in games and doing pregame work at shortstop.
"He continues to do everything that he can do to get back to being the best player that he's going to be," Huntington said. "He's been fine. At times he shows that he hasn't played competitively, other than a short stint in the Dominican Republic, in a long time. And at times he shows that he can still hit a ball and still play the game."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.