Monday, February 28, 2011
Willie Harris moves on
Except for the Mets uniform he was wearing.
"I miss my guys," said Harris, who signed a minor-league deal with New York over the winter. "I miss being over here with these guys, but unfortunately you have to move on. When one door closes, another door opens. I'm looking forward to this opportunity I have in New York and plan on making the best of it."
Harris hoped to return to Washington after his contract expired at the end of the season. His contact with the Nationals, though, was minimal and he gave up hope when he heard through the grapevine they were more interested in adding right-handed bats off the bench. (They wound up signing Jerry Hairston to fill Harris' super-utility role.)
Coming off a down year in which he hit .183 with 10 homers and 32 RBI in 132 games, Harris had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Mets, though all signs point to him making the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder.
"It's a tough pill for anyone to swallow," the 32-year-old said. "But when you hit .183, that's pretty much what you're looking at. I thought I had a pretty good year as far as production off the bench. But overall, they look at your batting average. I had to do what I had to do."
Harris said he's made some physical and mental changes to his game that he believes will pay dividends this season with his new club. He remains close to many of his former teammates and went to dinner with two of them (Ian Desmond and J.D. Martin) last week in Viera.
On the way home, Harris' car was rear-ended by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The incident became major news in New York, even though Harris wasn't injured and wasn't to blame at all.
"I'm fine," he said. "The car is jacked up, but I'm cool."
There is some irony, of course, in Harris signing with a Mets team he frequently beat with late-game heroics. MASN even ran a commercial a couple years ago in which a fan declared that "the Mets must hate Willie Harris."
Now that he's playing for the team that once hated him, is he motivated to stick a few daggers in the Nationals' hearts?
"I love all those guys, man," he said. "It's a part of the game when you have to move on. I still love those guys. Now I've got to try to beat them. ... No motivation to do it, but I want to win. I'm not trying to stick daggers or anything like that."
Posted by Mark Zuckerman at 12:29 PM