Pregame: Clint Hurdle sees Josh Harrison as possible future utility middle infielder

Justin K. Aller

Pregame Notes:

Cole update

Gerrit Cole said that he felt "good" when he briefly appeared in the clubhouse. Clint Hurdle said that the team will have more information after the right-hander works out with the pitchers this afternoon.

Volquez keeping the ball in the park

Edinson Volquez only allowed one home run in the month of June after allowing seven in May.

"He's been on a little bit of roll," Hurdle said of Volquez's recent success. "I think it's execution, for one. He's just hard to hit. The walks would lead to falling behind in counts, which would lead to hits. It was all kind of falling into one another. Then, boom, a home run."

In June, he threw 34.1 innings, posting a 3.67 ERA and a 2.2-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Questions to be answered

Hurdle made some interesting comments regarding the team's future plans for Josh Harrison. He said that among the questions that needed to be answered this year were whether Jordy Mercer could turn into a reliable everyday shortstop, and if Josh Harrison would become the top utility middle infield option.

"We're doing the best we can to find out exactly what we have in [Harrison]," Hurdle said. "Right now, I don't have that answer and it is a challenge on my desk."

Mercer as a No. 2 hitter

Mercer has been a strong offensive contributor the past month. Since June 1 he is batting .301/.344/.469. Hurdle said that he can see the shortstop turning into a viable option for the second spot in the order.

"I do think he could become a second spot hitter. We used him there a few times last year. Against left-handed pitching we used him there quite frequently last year ... Second would be a fit that I think he could play into."

Hurdle approves of Cubs-A's trade

Hurdle smiled and said, "I'm good with that," when of the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel out of the division and to the Oakland A's.

"I didn't have a lot of anxiety," Hurdle said drawing laughter from the room. "I was in a much better place last night when somebody [told] me [about] a blockbuster trade and that those two would be heading to the A's. I was like, ‘Nice move, well done.'"

McCutchen stealing successfully

With another successful stolen base attempt yesterday, Andrew McCutchen has stolen 13 bases without being caught this year. This is an encouraging development, as the last two seasons his success rate was slightly below the level that Hurdle said makes stealing bases a effective tactic. Between 2012 and 2013, McCutchen stole 47 bases and was caught 22 times, for a 68 percent success rate. Hurdle said stealing bases "stops making sense" when the rate drops below 70 percent.

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