Detroit Tigers release Josh Harrison, who wasn't to play much anyway the rest of 2019

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press

As of Thursday afternoon, Josh Harrison was still in the middle of his minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.

He was playing, Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. Feeling good, playing five innings in the field one day and nine innings at designated hitter the next. He was halfway to the 40 at-bats the team wanted him to receive at Triple-A Toledo.

Four at-bats later, the veteran second baseman is gone.

As indicated by Gardenhire before Thursday’s series opener against the Royals, the Tigers did not envision much — if any — playing time for Harrison down the stretch. They activated him from the 60-day injured list and released him on Friday afternoon.

Harrison, 32, hit .176 with one home run and eight RBIs in 36 games this season. His season was marred by a slow start and two injuries, which largely kept him off the field in his one season with the Tigers.

He signed a one-year, $2 million deal late in spring training.

“We can’t worry about that part,” Gardenhire said, when asked how he would carve out playing time for Harrison upon his return, and if the situation is sensitive for veteran players. “He’s been in baseball long enough to understand how that works. It’s going to happen. As long as I explain it to him and let him know and keep him on what page we’re on and what we’re doing, then it works. If you just do it and don’t say anything, then it doesn’t look good.

“You gotta know what’s happening with any veteran that you’re going to bring kids up to play. You just have to have a conversation with them and keep them in the know – I’ve had that happen many of times.

“Are they happy? No, because they want to play to get a job next year, but they also understand where we’re at when they signed, they knew we were in a rebuild and that if we get to the end and bring up kids, that’s what’s going to happen, and we’ll talk to them when that arises.”

Harrison hit the injured list twice this season, first in early June with a shoulder strain and then shortly thereafter with a left hamstring strain, which required surgery.

He signed with the Tigers as one of the few remaining veteran free agents on the market, hoping to stabilize the middle of their infield with longtime teammate Jordy Mercer, but his body was unable to allow him to do so. In nine seasons, Harrison is a .273 hitter with 53 home runs, 277 RBIs and 79 stolen bases.