Former big leaguer Willie Harris will be the new Chicago Cubs third base coach.
The 2020 offseason has been one of major turnover for the Chicago Cubs and nobody’s even been traded yet. Theo Epstein stepped down as president, Will Venable became Boston’s bench coach, and most recently, Len Kasper left to join the White Sox radio crew. One of those vacancies has been covered, though, as the team hired Willie Harris to coach the hot corner in Venable’s stead.
Harris previously spent time with both the Reds and Giants minor league affiliates, acting as a baserunning and outfield coordinator in Cincinnati. Before that, he was a respected big league veteran. Most notably, he picked up a World Series ring with the 2005 White Sox, but he also played for the Nationals, Reds and Braves among other teams. He has a wealth of big league experience, acting as a utility man for teams in both leagues across 12 seasons.
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While not exactly a star, Harris was a difference-maker for the 2005 world champs. He scored the winning run in Game 4 of the Fall Classic off a Jermaine Dye single and secured the sweep of the Astros. That run alone makes him a bit of a White Sox legend, though now he’ll be stationed on the North Side.
He’s an interesting hire in part because he only has three years under his belt as a coach in any capacity. Then again, Venable also lacked in coaching experience. He was named as the team’s first base coach not long after his first post-playing career job as a special assistant to Epstein. Like Venable, Harris is not far removed from his playing days, adding to a younger coaching staff under an already young manager in David Ross.
While there aren’t any strong connections between Harris and the Cubs, he’s a good fit for the team in terms of playing experience and coaching expertise. I also have to give the team credit for following a similar mentality to bringing Venable into the fold, targeting a lesser-known candidate with a good reputation and experience at multiple positions all over the league.
Venable was beloved in his short time in a Chicago Cubs uniform and here’s hoping that Harris will have the same impact over time. His hiring solidifies Ross’ coaching staff for the 2021 season. He, along with new assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika, is one of the only major changes to the team’s coaching.