3B coach Harris already a clubhouse favorite

March 25th, 2021

As Nico Hoerner motored around second base in the eighth inning against the White Sox on Tuesday, he had to look low when he turned to find Cubs third-base coach .

Harris was on his belly in the grass in foul ground, motioning for Hoerner to dive into the bag.

"He comes from the school, he told me, of Joey Cora third-base coaching," Cubs manager Davis Ross said with a smile prior to Wednesday's 6-2 win over the Mariners. "He's going to get down on the ground where the player is, just mimicking his body.

"I saw it -- I think the first guy that hit a triple early in camp -- when [Harris] hit the ground, it made me start laughing pretty good. That's Willie in a nutshell. He's got energy."

Harris was at it again Wednesday night, dropping to the ground in the fourth inning on another triple off the bat of Hoerner.

Cora, who is currently the third-base coach for the Pirates, filled that same role for the White Sox in 2004-05, during Harris' time as a player with the South Siders. Harris played for seven teams in parts of 12 seasons before getting into coaching himself -- most recently as the Reds' Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator in 2020.

Harris joined Ross' staff with the Cubs over the offseason, following Will Venable's departure to become the bench coach with the Red Sox. Ross has been more than impressed with the coach's work with the outfielders and baserunning to this point in Spring Training.

"Willie, listen, talking about personality and fun," Ross said, "I value that in my coaching staff. And Willie, that's part of the reason he was a standout candidate this offseason. He brings a lot of energy and knowledge, but he delivers it in such a fun, impactful way."

Game highlights
• Center fielder Jake Marisnick has been in a strong offensive streak since returning from a right calf issue that nagged him earlier this spring. Marisnick belted a homer in the fifth inning Wednesday night, marking his fourth blast in 15 Cactus League at-bats. He also drew a walk and stole a base.

"He's looked really good," Ross said before Wednesday's game. "He's hit, really, some massive home runs, and has had great at-bats, I've thought, every time out. He's hit the ball hard a lot. It's been impressive."

• Righty Zach Davies struck out eight in 4 1/3 innings in his start against Seattle. Davies allowed one run on three hits and two walks. After that 87-pitch outing, the righty has a 0.68 ERA through four Cactus League starts (13 1/3 innings).

• David Bote, Nico Hoerner and Eric Sogard are all in the mix for playing time at second base. In Wednesday's game, Hoerner tripled as part of a two-hit showing, while Sogard had two hits, two RBIs, one walk and a stolen base. Bote cooled off after a recent hot stretch, going 0-for-4 at the plate.

• Closer Craig Kimbrel got through the seventh without incident, working around an inning-opening error by Patrick Wisdom with two flyouts and one groundout. Setup man Brandon Workman lowered his spring ERA to 1.29 with one shutout inning. The righty walked one batter.

Worth noting
• Ross noted that an unidentified Cubs player on the Minor League side of camp tested positive for COVID-19. The team conducted contact tracing and multiple tests for other players and there were no issues beyond the lone case.

"Everything's clean, as far as that goes," Ross said. "We went through all the sensors that we wear and everybody's good."

• Catcher Austin Romine is still working back slowly from a right knee sprain, though he has progressed to some light baseball activity, per Ross. Beyond rehab work, the manager said Romine has been able to do some throwing and could resume hitting off a tee soon.

• Ross said right-hander Jonathan Holder has been sidelined for the past few days due to a chest muscle setback.

"You saw spiderwebs on the seats and stuff, where fans hadn't sat in months and months and months. And so, the fact that thing's going to be all nice and cleaned up and shiny for fans, who are going to get in there and grab a [hot] dog and a beer and cheer on the Cubs -- it doesn't get any better than that. I can't wait. I literally can't." -- Ross, on having fans at Wrigley Field this year

Up next
Righty Adbert Alzolay is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Thursday, when they host the Dodgers at 8:05 p.m. CT at Sloan Park. Los Angeles will send Dustin May to the hill. The game will be televised on MLB Network and MLB.TV on the Marquee Sports Network, and also available on 670 The Score.