More than just an outfielder, Harris is a teacher

Nationals outfielder Willie Harris doesn’t play as much as he would like. But he doesn’t sulk when he is not in the game. He gets up and helps coach young outfielders like Roger Bernandina.

During a game last week in Cincinnati, Harris directed Bernadina where to stand off of first base and how much of a lead he needed to try to get to second on a quicker pace.

Harris had a big series against the Reds. He scored at least a run in every game of the four game set.

“It feels good for me,” Harris said. “It has been a grind for me. Right now I am just trying to ‘win every pitch’. I am just trying to simplify everything as much as I can. Hopefully, things turn around for me.

“I am on the verge of things turning around for me right now. I feel really good at the plate. I have to continue to keep that same work ethic that (hitting coach Rick) Eckstein has helped me with and continue to work hard.”

Harris appreciates what Bernadina has done to continue to improve into the second half of the season. His home run Thursday was his sixth of the season, all of which have come on the road.

“Roger is a great kid and a great ball player,” Harris said. “He is willing to listen and he is willing to learn. You see a guy like that get an opportunity to play in the major leagues, you want to help him. If you have some knowledge to give to him or something that may help him you give it to him.

“Thursday he was running down to first and he launched at the base. I told him, ‘Don’t do that. You could hurt your ankle and be out six weeks. If you are called out on the play you are out. It’s okay, way to hustle down the line. Get them next time.’”

Jim Riggleman was asked last week who would make good managerial candidates on this team. He mentioned Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Pudge Rodriguez and Harris as players that might someday get back into the game as a coach or manager.

Watching Harris direct Bernadina on the base paths, you get that sense that he would be a great teacher on the diamond once his career wraps up. But he still has a lot in the tank, as evidenced by Harris, when he jokingly chastised all the reporters for not remembering his triple Thursday was also his 500th hit of his career.

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