The Minnesota Twins have officially begun Spring Training down in Fort Myers. There is plenty of excitement for the upcoming season with new faces bringing added talent to the 25 man roster. Before looking ahead at the upcoming season however, it’s always exciting to take a look back at what was. Thanks to Kevin (@Ex_Twins_News), we can take a closer look at former Twins Brendan Harris.
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If you follow or have come across @Ex_Twins_News on Twitter, you are familiar with how the account is run. While being a devoted Twins fan, Kevin spends plenty of time catching you up on the Twins that were, and tracking where they land. He has compiled an extensive amount of interviews with former Twins over the years, and today the focus is former infielder Brendan Harris.
Here’s what Brendan had to say:
EX-TWINS NEWS: You were drafted by the Cubs in the 5th round in 2001 out of the College of William and Mary. Can you explain what that experience felt like? How did you find out?
Brendan Harris: Every player remembers the day they were drafted. It’s a special day; I was at home in upstate NY with my family. I had just played in the NCAA tournament with my school, William and Mary, and was excited and anxious for draft day. I got a call from an area scout in VA for the Cubs, he told me they took me in the fifth round and he would call me in a few days to work out a signing bonus. I put the phone down and we all started celebrating
EX-TWINS NEWS: You started in your MLB debut for the Cubs in 2004, getting a double in your second MLB at-bat, what do you remember from that?
Brendan Harris: I was hitting second in my debut, sandwiched between Mark Grudzielanek and Sammy Sosa. I remember Mark telling me you only get one first AB in the big leagues and to not worry about what he did and to let it rip. I went up and talked myself into swinging at the first pitch and grounded out. My second at bat I saw a few pitches and got ahead in the count and doubled to right center. It was just a huge relief to get the first hit. I got the ball and our clubhouse manger put it right in my locker.
Brendan Harris: I was pretty excited and a little anxious to get my first start, not too nervous. There were so many big stars on that team it was easy for a rookie to fly under the radar. We had Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Sosa, Alou, Derek Lee. I was playing third and the 2nd batter of the game, Craig Counsel bunted and I threw it down the right field line, first play ever in the big leagues. I figured there’s nowhere to go but up from here and I played a good game from then on.
EX-TWINS NEWS: You’ve had some pretty cool MLB experiences, I’m sure. I did notice a few that stand outs though- You played for the last Montreal Expos team that would become the Washington Nationals. What was that like?
Brendan Harris: I had been traded at the deadline to the Expos and then called up in September. The team was in last place in the division and had been dealing with the relocation talk all year, so it was an interesting atmosphere to walk into. The city and fans were angry with how the whole process had unfolded, justifiably, and basically had stopped coming. The final week however, there were three sellout crowds. I think Montreal deserves a team and would certainly draw well enough if they got a new ballpark. I still have a lot of my Expos gear
EX-TWINS NEWS: In 2007, you played for the last Tampa Bay Devil Rays team, which would be renamed the Tampa Bay Rays the next year in 2008. Were you aware of the change that was coming?
Brendan Harris: Yes, I knew it was going to be the last year for the Devil Rays. There was a new color scheme, name change and uniform unveiling over the winter that all the players were brought in to promote. A week later I was traded to the Twins.
EX-TWINS NEWS: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a Minnesota Twin? You came to the Twins as a part of a trade in 2007. What were your initial thoughts coming to the Twins organization?
Brendan Harris: My initial reaction to the trade was surprise. As I mentioned we just had the new uniform unveiling in St. Pete, and we were excited about the upcoming year. We had David Price and Longoria on the way and there was a lot of optimism. I then went to Twins fest and was overwhelmed with the fan support throughout the Midwest the Twins have. The team was in a bit of a transition with Torii Hunter and Johan Santana leaving, and some young players being brought in so it wasn’t like I was the only new guy. I have a lot of great memories of Minnesota, I met my wife there, (who was a Golden Gopher), and I am back in the region visiting family fairly often.
EX-TWINS NEWS: You were a part of a group of players that transitioned from the Metrodome in 2009, to the brand-new Target Field in 2010. Can you speak a little about that experience? What was the biggest difference (as a player) between the two facilities?
Brendan Harris: There was a lot of excitement about the transition to Target Field and I remember there being a different vibe in spring training. There were significant expectations for the club now that hadn’t been there in a few years. No longer were the Twins underdogs or small market. There was a much higher payroll than in years past and we were picked to win the division by a lot of people. The new facility itself was outstanding. The organization really took care of every amenity a player or fan would need or could think of.
EX-TWINS NEWS: You’ve played 529 major league baseball games, with 6 teams, 296 of them coming with the Minnesota Twins. What’s your best MLB experience? What’s your best Twins memory?
Brendan Harris: My best MLB experience and Twins memory are one in the same. Game 163 of the 2009 season was the best game I’ve ever been a part of, and the loudest I had ever heard the Metrodome. The emotion and adrenaline in the way it ended and the celebration that followed were something I’ll never forget.
Stay tuned throughout the season as @Ex_Twins_News continues to help us take a deeper look into former Twins here at Puckett’s Pond.