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Bucs' Harrison to join Team USA in WBC '17

Versatile Pirates vet to replace Cardinals infielder Carpenter
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the Pirates played the Tigers on Thursday, Josh Harrison exchanged a hug and a handshake with Jim Leyland. They'll be seeing more of each other soon, as Harrison will join Leyland's Team USA roster in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"Didn't know that wouldn't be the last time I would be seeing him," Harrison said Saturday, smiling. "I get a chance to give him another handshake and play for Team USA."

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the Pirates played the Tigers on Thursday, Josh Harrison exchanged a hug and a handshake with Jim Leyland. They'll be seeing more of each other soon, as Harrison will join Leyland's Team USA roster in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"Didn't know that wouldn't be the last time I would be seeing him," Harrison said Saturday, smiling. "I get a chance to give him another handshake and play for Team USA."

Harrison, replacing Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter, is expected to serve in a utility role for the squad managed by Leyland. Harrison heard about the opportunity on Friday from several members of the Pirates' front office and training staff. Then came the call from Major League Baseball chief baseball officer Joe Torre, gauging Harrison's interest in joining Team USA.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

It wasn't a hard question to answer for Harrison.

"Obviously excited. It's an extreme honor, something that doesn't come very often," he said. "Definitely excited to put on the colors and play with the rest of the guys. … I think it's a great experience to go out, have fun and play the game that I love."

Harrison, the Pirates' everyday second baseman last year, will be Pittsburgh's fifth regular position player participating in the international tournament. Outfielders Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will play for the Dominican Republic, and catcher Francisco Cervelli is set to join Team Italy. Harrison and Andrew McCutchen will leave Monday to join Team USA.

"Anytime you can play with one of your teammates and best friends, it's always going to make it easier," Harrison said. "We get to play with a great group of guys."

Video: Harrison discusses replacing Carpenter on Team USA

Harrison hasn't talked to Leyland about a specific role, but he has played everywhere but center field and catcher over the past six years. While he joined the roster later in Spring Training than most players participating in the World Baseball Classic, Harrison believes he will be ready for the more intense competition.

"I'm in a good place. A lot of it came with the offseason, getting my body ready and staying healthy," he said. "When I got the call, it wasn't anything I was apprehensive about, saying I'm not ready. I felt good the first couple games I've played here."

Harrison has mostly worked at second base, but manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates planned to move him around the field later in Spring Training. That matches up well with Harrison's projected super-utility role for Team USA.

"That's going to work to your advantage, our advantage," Hurdle said he told Harrison.

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

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

United States, Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison