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BRADENTON, Florida (93-7 THE FAN) – Josh Harrison is not backing down. If the Pirates’ focus isn’t on winning, from top-to-bottom, he wants out.
“That’s something I truly believe in,” said the All-Star upon reporting to Pirate City on Sunday morning. “I want to win. And if that’s not what they want to do here, trade me.”
Harrison issued a statement in January following the trades of Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen that requested a move be made if the organization’s first priority was not winning now.
That public statement earned him a call form General Manager Neal Huntington. Asked if the GM gave him any assurances that the franchise’s top priority is winning now, Harrison didn’t sound reassured in the least.
“At the end of the day there wasn’t anything said or done that I was like ‘Oh, I can breathe easy’”
On the heels of David Freese’s comments 48 hours earlier that questioned the commitment to winning on the field, in the clubhouse, and within the organization, Harrison’s voice is that of another Pirates’ veteran frustrated by two seasons of losing baseball.
“You want to know what’s expected of you as a team, as a player. Sometimes that gets lost in translation. We all want to win, and when you feel it’s not the main goal of everybody in the clubhouse or dealing with the organization, that’s hard to be a part of.”
As a 30-year old, Harrison knows his time in the game could be limited and wants to make the most of it.
“I’m going out there busting my butt every day to win, and if that’s not being reciprocated by everybody, I think that’s a situation that anyone who wants to win would not feel it’s in the best interests of where they need to be.”
Harrison is in the final guaranteed year of a contract that can be extended by club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but has been rumored to be a part of serious trade discussions with both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets in the past year.
Being a focal point of trade rumors has taken a mental and emotional toll on Harrison, much the same way it did on McCutchen and Cole before their departures.
“A lot of [the frustration] has to do with communication. The human side of this game gets lost. We have families. We have feelings. … You want to make sure everybody’s on the same page.”
In the end, whether he’s in a Pirates uniform or another, Harrison insists his focus will remain singular.
“I care about winning.”
The question now will be who else is on board.