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INF/OF Harrison to Nationals after release from Phillies

WASHINGTON – Utility player Josh Harrison signed a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals and was added to their 30-man active roster Monday, less than a week after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 33-year-old Harrison is a two-time All-Star and a right-handed hitter who has started games at second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots during his nine years in the majors.

“The only positions that I haven´t played are catcher and first – I´ve even got a third of an inning on the mound,” he said.

Harrison said that after he asked for his release from the Phillies, he was immediately in touch with teams other than the Nationals – and was close to agreeing to a deal with one of those clubs.

But about 20 minutes from the end of the 600-mile drive from Philadelphia to his home in Cincinnati with his wife and children, Harrison recounted, his agent called to say: “Change of plans. Washington wants you. Big leagues. Let´s do it right now.”

So that´s what Harrison did.

“It´s always been a place of interest to me, and I think it´s been both ways. … There was always mutual interest,” he said about Washington. “It was a little crazy. But at the same time, everything happened so fast. I wanted to act quickly. knowing this is a 60-game season. Teams didn´t want to wait around – and I didn´t want to wait around.”

He could help the Nationals get by until slugger Juan Soto is ready to play regularly; the 21-year-old outfielder was put on the COVID-19 injured list on opening day. Manager Dave Martinez said the team was told Soto passed one test for the coronavirus; a second negative result is needed before a player can return to the club.

“We´re really at the mercy of when we get these tests back,” Martinez said. “So hopefully the next one comes back soon and it tests negative, and we´ll see what happens from there.”

To make room on their 30-man active roster, the Nationals optioned catcher Raudy Read to their alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Harrison played eight seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Detroit Tigers in 2019, compiling a career .273 batting average with 53 homers and 277 RBIs.

He was an NL All-Star in 2014 and 2017 for Pittsburgh.

But last season, Harrison hit .175 with one homer in 36 games for the Tigers before getting released in August.

In November, the Phillies signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. They let him go last Tuesday.

“He will fit right in,” Martinez said. “The way this season is going … we need guys who have that energy and that spark. We feel like he can bring that.”

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This story has been corrected to show that the Nationals’ alternative training site is in Virginia, not Maryland.

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