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Harrison's batting stance is back to a familiar look

Pirates sign Make-A-Wish kid to contract; Holmes recalled for Saturday start
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison looked more like himself on Thursday night. It wasn't just that Harrison had two hits, either. It was actually the way he looked in the batter's box.

When Harrison returned from the disabled list in late May, he closed off his stance at the plate. The idea came from a good place. Harrison wanted to protect himself after sustaining two fractures in eight months, the result of errant pitches that struck his left hand.

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PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison looked more like himself on Thursday night. It wasn't just that Harrison had two hits, either. It was actually the way he looked in the batter's box.

When Harrison returned from the disabled list in late May, he closed off his stance at the plate. The idea came from a good place. Harrison wanted to protect himself after sustaining two fractures in eight months, the result of errant pitches that struck his left hand.

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"Sometimes, we do things we shouldn't, and it puts us in a spot where we don't want to be," said Harrison, who was bumped out of the leadoff spot, hitting just .253 with a .625 OPS from May 20 through Wednesday. "Granted, I was doing it to protect my hand, but no excuse. I was just missing pitches. That's baseball. You don't get the results when you miss pitches."

The difference was noticeable. Just after Harrison returned from the disabled list, his left foot was closer to the plate than his right foot in a closed stance.

Video: STL@PIT: Harrison smacks RBI single to center

When his hand fully recovered, Harrison said, his body told him, "All right, you need to go back open." But the transition back to his old stance was not so seamless.

"I'd say it's just like riding a bike, but I can't ride a bike," Harrison said. "So it took me a little longer than expected."

Harrison continued to work, and it all came together on Thursday night. Standing as he has the past few years, with his left leg back and his body open to face the pitcher, Harrison drew two walks, hit a single to center and laced an RBI double to left-center.

"I've been getting those pitches the past couple of weeks and been fouling them off, so the work I've been putting in has definitely been paying off," Harrison said. "Been frustrating, but as far as what I've been feeling, I haven't been feeling bad. I knew at some point something was going to click."

J-Hay, meet A-Hay
Harrison had a special guest at PNC Park on Friday. The Pirates, in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, signed 10-year-old Aaron Ashby to a one-day contract before Friday's game against the Brewers.

Harrison and Aaron had lunch at the ballpark, hung out in the Pirates' clubhouse and took batting practice on the field. Aaron had a locker of his own, with a No. 10 "Ashby" jersey and a personalized nameplate, in between Ivan Nova and Richard Rodriguez.

General manager Neal Huntington then helped Aaron sign his big league contract during a press conference attended by Aaron's family and some surprise visitors: Harrison, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams and Colin Moran -- Aaron's teammates for the day.

Tweet from @adamdberry: This was cool. @Pirates and @MakeAWish partnered up to bring 10-year-old Aaron Ashby to PNC Park today. He signed a one-day contract, and some new teammates showed up for his press conference. pic.twitter.com/mjb1uDaFSm

"He's had a good time," Harrison said, smiling. "I've enjoyed just being around him and his family."

Around the horn
• The Pirates will recall right-hander Clay Holmes to start the second half of Saturday's doubleheader. Holmes made his first Major League start on July 4 at Dodger Stadium, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.

"The performance in [Triple-A] Indy was lights-out. What's next?" manager Clint Hurdle said. "You want to find out how does that equate and what does that translate to up here."

Right-hander Ivan Nova will start Game 1 on Saturday, as expected. To stay on track for Saturday's start, Holmes pitched on Monday for Class A Advanced Bradenton.

• The Pirates and Brewers honored Negro Leagues baseball on Friday by wearing the uniforms of the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Milwaukee Bears.

"It means a lot, man. It's one of the reasons I wear my pants up," Harrison said. "It was kind of like my tribute to the Negro League players."

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