Josh Harrison was released by the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of Spring Training 2.0 last July, but he signed on with the Washington Nationals six days later and ended up playing in a total of 33 games in the 60-game season, with a solid .278/.352/.418 line, two doubles and three home runs in 91 plate appearances.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked towards the end of MLB’s COVID campaign about trying to bring the veteran utility man back for another run in the nation’s capital.
“He’s just as advertised,” Martinez said.
“I hope that we sit back at the end of this year when we start evaluating these things, and what we need — for me he’s somebody we need. I’d love to have him [back].
“There will definitely be some conversations about him this winter.”
They didn’t wait for the winter. Harrison re-signed on a 1-year/$1M deal in October of 2020.
The start of his 2021 campaign was delayed when he ended up on the COVID-IL earlier this month, but he was cleared to play this week in St. Louis, and the 33-year-old veteran said it felt like a long stint, and he couldn’t wait to get back on the field.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Harrison said of missing time, with injuries over the past few seasons, though this time it was the issues with COVID.
“Not as long as this one was, but I was able to keep myself ready and watch the guys and wait for the protocol to end and get back.”
Harrison has hits in all four games played since he returned to the lineup, going 8 for 15 with a double and a homer in 17 plate appearances, over which he has drawn two walks without striking out.
Considering he was signed to come off the bench as a utility man and has ended up as the club’s starting second baseman, you couldn’t ask for more from his first week.
“He’s really not trying to do too much, he’s staying on the ball well and he’s using all fields, and that’s good, he’s not chasing, he’s doing really well,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ loss in the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
He’s also the type of player who light a spark for his team with his enthusiastic approach to his game.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s been doing that for us, and like I said before, i’ve always liked the way he played the game and how much energy he has,” Harrison’s manager added.
“I’m glad he’s doing well and we’re going to hopefully continue to keep him that way. It’s a long season, he knows that, but he’s having a lot of fun and he enjoys playing the game.”
Harrison is back in at second tonight for the second of four with the D-backs in D.C., looking to extend his four-game hit streak.