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Struggling Harrison out of starting lineup vs. Reds

MLB.com @Tom_Singer

PITTSBURGH -- Tuesday was another "work day" for Josh Harrison. But instead of working to get a hit against the Reds, the Bucs' regular third baseman was working on reclaiming the swing that produced the National League's second-best average in 2014.

Jung Ho Kang remained in the starting lineup at the hot corner for Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Reds to allow Harrison some quality time with hitting coach Jeff Branson. Harrison went 1-for-16 during the weekend in St. Louis, including drawing a collar in seven at-bats Sunday, and five straight hitless games (1-for-23) have his average at .188.

Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Tuesday was another "work day" for Josh Harrison. But instead of working to get a hit against the Reds, the Bucs' regular third baseman was working on reclaiming the swing that produced the National League's second-best average in 2014.

Jung Ho Kang remained in the starting lineup at the hot corner for Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Reds to allow Harrison some quality time with hitting coach Jeff Branson. Harrison went 1-for-16 during the weekend in St. Louis, including drawing a collar in seven at-bats Sunday, and five straight hitless games (1-for-23) have his average at .188.

Full Game Coverage

Harrison hit into some hard outs in Busch Stadium but, for the most part, mishit balls with out-of-balance swings.

So he had to do some weight training.

"He has a tendency at times where the weight is shifting from back to front -- when you're kind of falling into your swing," manager Clint Hurdle, also a batting coach at heart, laid out the problem. "It's about getting some separation in his stance when he goes into that 'launch' position, getting that [front] foot down and holding the backside where it needs to be."

So much for "see the ball, hit the ball," right?

Ironically, Harrison's season-starting rut only deepened when Hurdle dropped him out of leadoff and into the No. 2 slot at the start of the Cardinals series, in hopes of getting a reputed clutch hitter more opportunities with men on base.

Harrison likely tried too hard to respond to that role, particularly with the Bucs having difficulty scoring in St. Louis. He left 11 men on base during the three games.

He often appeared to lunge at early pitches, swinging himself into a hole and leaving himself at pitchers' mercy.

"He's been in a position where the swing has started before the foot's really been planted," Hurdle said. "He needs to plant his foot, then initiate his swing. Everything looks a little better and more hittable when you're out in front than when you're letting that ball travel to you and meeting it halfway there.

"When you're going [out] to get it, you have a tendency to get fooled. Spin [breaking stuff] can get you. Obviously, hard-in can get you. You just don't have good coverage. You're vulnerable."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison