Lucas Harrell pitched sixth scoreless innings Wednesday night for the Oklahoma City RedHawks. He gave up four hits and walked three. Nine strikeouts also contributed to a strong outing as Oklahoma City whipped Nashville 6-3 in a Pacific Coast League baseball game at RedHawks Field at Bricktown.
But Harrell's hitting is another story.
Claimed off waivers from the American League's Chicago White Sox earlier this month, Harrell had to put a bat on his shoulder once again.
“Ha,” RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco quickly responded when asked about Harrell's hitting. “We just need him to bunt; he needs to work on his bunting. He may hurt himself if he swings.”
Harrell laughed a lot when talking about his hitting prowess as the Ozark High School (Mo.) graduate hasn't hit since his high school days, eight years ago. Now he's with the Houston Astros, a National League organization.
“It's definitely a transition for me,” Harrell said. “I got to do batting practice full time this year before we played Arizona. I took batting practice a couple times, but I haven't done a lot of hitting.”
Until Wednesday's game, Harrell hadn't registered a hit in two starts for the RedHawks.
“I got him to get a base hit today,” RedHawks hitting coach Keith Bodie said. “He's a good student, it's been fun. You're trying to make something out of nothing, but he's got a lot to start with. He a very good athlete.”
Harrell went 1-for-2 in Wednesday's game and struck out once. Still, one hit is a huge steppingstone for ballplayer who is learning how to swing the bat all over again.
“I told him one thing, ‘Just close your eyes and swing as hard as you can,' and he did it,” Bodie said. “You're going to see some more hits from him.”
When Houston sent Harrell to the Triple-A RedHawks, he didn't know anyone on the team. Harrell said he feels welcomed and enjoys the task ahead — becoming a hitter.
“Tony DeFrancesco has been good helping me with my hitting and my bunting,” Harrell said. “I'm not so good at it yet.
“I like hitting, I just wish I was better at it.”