Tigers' Harrison confident hamstring injury won't be long-term issue

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
"I will finally get to the root of why I was feeling what I was feeling," says Josh Harrison about his left hamstring injury.

Atlanta — What Josh Harrison is seeking on Monday, more than anything else, is some clarity.

“Hopefully, I will get some peace of mind knowing it was something that could’ve happened that day or it could have happened a month from now,” he said. “I will finally get to the root of why I was feeling what I was feeling.”

Harrison and Jordy Mercer both are traveling to Dallas to see specialist Dr. Daniel E. Cooper, who is the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys. Mercer has been battling through a right quad strain for nearly two months.

Harrison has a second-degree strain in his left hamstring, the same hamstring he injured last season when he was with the Pirates.

“It’s the same thing I did last year and played through it,” Harrison said. “I think the MRI showed it was pretty much a recurring thing from last year with the scar tissue. For me, I know I did everything I was supposed to do to come back healthy.”

Harrison injured the hamstring last season, leaping for a catch right before the All-Star break. He said he would take treatment on the leg before every game and by playing in the game he’d essentially undo all benefits of the treatment and be back at square one.

He played regularly into August, but after Aug. 21, after the Pirates started to fade from playoff contention, Harrison was reduced to spot duty. In the offseason, he had physical therapy on the leg at least twice a week.

He was getting treatment at his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, right up to the day he signed with the Tigers and headed to Lakeland.  

“To be honest, I don’t know what to expect,” Harrison said. “I just know I am able to walk and I don’t feel any extreme pain. Just soreness, everything you’d expect with some type of strain. But this feels worse than last year.”

Harrison, in typical J-Hay fashion, injured his hamstring making a heads-up aggressive play that helped the Tigers put the tying runs in scoring position last Monday against the Orioles.

With the Tigers trailing by two runs, Harrison led off the ninth with a single.

“Two batters before the injury, (Grayson) Greiner was hitting and it was a 3-1 count,” he said. “I broke for second and slid. I probably would’ve been out if it hadn’t been ball four — but I didn’t feel anything. But I remember I looked at Gordon (Beckham, who pinch-ran for Greiner at first base).

“When Stew (Christin Stewart) walked up, I saw the shift was on. I just nodded at Gordon, ‘You are the tying run and they’re giving us the base. We’ve got to take it.’”

And they did, they executed the double-steal. But as Harrison was going into a head-first slide into third base, he said he felt something “grab or pop” in the hamstring.

“I told Clarkie (third base coach Dave Clark) to get somebody in here to run,” Harrison said. “I knew right away…Honestly, it wasn’t like it hurt. Just my body didn’t fire the right way. The more you play this game, you start to feel things in your body.

“You know when something is off. I wasn’t in any discomfort, but I could feel that part of my hamstring wasn’t right.”

The initial diagnosis was second-degree strain, which typically means there is at least a slight tear in the hamstring tendon. Dr. Cooper’s examination and opinion could go a long way in determining whether Harrison’s best treatment is physical therapy or surgery.

“I don’t think it’s anything too serious,” he said. “In my mind, I will be back as soon as I can. I don’t see anything that could be season-ending.”

What about Cabrera?

Miguel Cabrera, who came out of the game in the sixth inning on Friday, had an MRI on his right knee Saturday morning. 

The Tigers didn't immediately disclose what the MRI showed.

"We've seen the film and we've sent it out to another (doctor)," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're going to let them check it out and then we will decide where we'll go from there."

It's likely Cabrera won't play on Sunday. 

Adams debut

Right-hander Austin Adams, claimed off waivers from the Twins on May 21, finally made his Tigers' debut in the seventh inning Saturday.

He featured a fastball that rang 98-mph on the radar gun. He struck out Ronald Acuna, Jr., with it. But Dansby Swanson knocked a 96-mph heater into the seats.

He hadn't pitched in nine days.

"It's tough," Gardenhire said. "When you are trying to win games and we hadn't seen what he can do. We know we have to get him in games to see what he can do. I thought he threw it pretty good."


Twitter: @cmccosky