PIT@TB: Harrison's knock puts the Pirates on top, 5-1

PITTSBURGH -- Even if the 2014 All-Star Game ballot authors had wanted to include Josh Harrison, they would not have known where to list him. Harrison, who made his 24th outfield start on Thursday vs. the Mets, has also started 11 games at second and eight at third while appearing in two at short.

That versatility is precisely the reason Harrison should be considered for a reserve role on the National League's All-Star team, out-of-the-box thinkers suggest. Carrying a .302 average through 62 games, Harrison certainly wouldn't have to apologize for his inclusion.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

So you can't vote for Harrison. But you can lobby for him.

"Is it a thought that has merit? Yes, there could be an opportunity for a super-utility guy to have an All-Star berth," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There have been some long [All-Star] Games, and that kind of guy could provide you with valuable depth. I don't think it's crazy by any means."

Neither did Rays manager Joe Maddon, who in 2009 added the similarly-versatile Ben Zobrist to that year's American League All-Star team. Of course, Maddon managed that squad by virtue of his Rays having won the '08 AL pennant.

"[Any push for Harrison] would probably have more legs if his manager was managing the All-Star Game," Hurdle said with a chuckle.

Marte improving, but remains out of lineup

PIT@TB: Marte caught stealing, leaves game in a daze

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte remained out of the Bucs' lineup on Thursday, but there was a chance the outfielder's jammed right middle finger would be improved enough to allow him to play off the bench.

The digit was the sidelining issue, not the residue of his Tuesday night headfirst slide into Tampa Bay second baseman Sean Rodriguez's knee.

"He's being treated for that finger," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's going to try to hit and find out what he'll be able to do tonight. He was better than [Wednesday]."

Bucs' affiliates to honor late prospect Chambers

PITTSBURGH -- Evan Chambers, the late Pirates prospect who passed away in December, is being honored by two of the teams for which he had played during his five years in the club's Minor League system.

On Sunday night, the Double-A Altoona Curve will auction off the 1992-style Pirates uniforms its players will be wearing in that night's game against Binghamton. Each uniform will carry a patch on the left sleeve with the initials "EC" in memory of Chambers, a third-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft who spent 31 games with the Curve in 2012.

All of the proceeds from the auction will go directly to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The Bradenton Marauders, the Bucs' Class A Advanced affiliate where Chambers played 186 games in 2011-12, will also hold a night in his honor, on July 10.

Worth noting

Francisco Liriano (strained left oblique) delivered 30 pitches from the windup in a Thursday side session. The left-hander will next do flat-ground throwing on Friday and return to the bullpen for a more diversified session on Sunday.

• Outfielder Jerrick Suiter, the Pirates' selection in the 26th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, has agreed to contract terms and been assigned to Bristol of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The TCU product, named Outstanding Player in the recent Big 12 Championship, is the 31st signee (of 42 selections) from the Draft -- the Bucs' most since signing 32 of 50 picks in 2008.

• In their Wednesday duel in St. Petersburg, Charlie Morton and the Rays' David Price produced only the eighth game ever in which both starters had 11-plus strikeouts without more than one walk.

First number, last word

0-7: Pirates' record this season in potential series-sweeping games, most recently Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Rays.

"He's been a pitcher-whisperer for years."
-- Hurdle on Jim Benedict, the pitching-specialist assistant to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington who has been instrumental in the career revivals of Mark Melancon, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez and, now, Vance Worley.