Willie Harris Preparing For Job As Cubs Coach (www.mlb.com)

Spring Training is a few weeks away, and Willie Harris can’t wait to join the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., as their new third-base coach. But Harris will be doing more than just waving runners home, as he will also be an outfield and baserunning coach.
Before taking the job with

Spring Training is a few weeks away, and Willie Harris can’t wait to join the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., as their

. But Harris will be doing more than just waving runners home, as he will also be an outfield and baserunning coach.

Before taking the job with the Cubs, Harris interviewed for the White Sox managerial post, a job that went to Tony La Russa. Now Harris will be on the North Side of Chicago, working with Jason Heyward, Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo.

“Just going back to Chicago and working with big leaguers, I feel like that’s where I belong,” Harris said via telephone. “I feel I can help an organization. I feel like I can bring the energy and the passion — bring the best out of the players. Ultimately, it’s all about the players. I had my career. My career is over as a player, and I understand it. I want to do something to impact someone else.”

Working in Chicago is nothing new for Harris. He was a utility man for the White Sox from 2002-05, and he could play outfield defense with the best of them. In his final year with the White Sox, Harris helped them win a World Series title, scoring what would be the game-winning run in the eighth inning after singling off Astros closer Brad Lidge. His playing career ended after the 2012 season following stints with the Red Sox, Braves, Nationals, Mets and Reds.

“I wasn’t a superstar. I wasn’t a banger. I wasn’t any of those things,” he said. “I played solid defense. I ran the bases well, and I was a solid teammate. That’s important. That has value.”

Harris has coaching experience, having managed Class A Winston Salem (White Sox) and Double-A Richmond (Giants) before becoming the baserunning and outfield coordinator for the Reds this past season. He credits such mentors as current Reds manager David Bell and former managers Buddy Bell and Jim Riggleman for helping him get the job with the Cubs. Bell was the vice president of player development for the Giants when he hired Harris to manage Richmond in 2017. Harris followed Bell to Cincinnati two years later.

“David is a great mentor for me in this game. He is one of the guys I lean on for information. He is one of the guys I call and ask questions if I have them,” Harris said.

It was at Richmond where Harris began thinking he could become a Major League manager someday.

“I’m a players type of guy,” he said. “I’m that guy that can share my experiences with players who are struggling. I understand when things are going good for them. I understand how they are feeling. I am the guy that is willing to talk to the player, call him into the office and just talk, not just about baseball.”

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.



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