A day in the life: Inside typical spring training day for Braves’ Michael Harris II

Braves center fielder Michael Harris II waits for his turn during batting practice at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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Braves center fielder Michael Harris II waits for his turn during batting practice at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)



NORTH PORT, Fla. — At around 8:20 on a sunny Sunday morning in North Port, Michael Harris II stands in front of the clubhouse whiteboard, where the day’s schedule and lineup are posted. He takes it all in for a few moments, then heads into the locker room portion of the clubhouse.

On this day, Harris is batting fifth and playing center field in a spring game versus the Yankees at CoolToday Park. It will be another regular spring training for Harris, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year who is beloved by teammates, coaches and fans.

“I don’t want to say (he’s) childish, because childish nowadays is (perceived as) bad, you know what I’m saying?” Vaughn Grissom, one of Harris’ best friends, said. “But he has some fun to him, he has some looseness. … The last thing being here is, is a job for him. He gets to come out here and play. He just is having fun, and he’s being himself.”

Here’s a look at a typical day of spring training for Harris, a lifelong Braves fan who signed an eight-year, $72 million extension with his hometown team last summer.

7 a.m. wake-up call

At around 7 a.m., Harris wakes up for the new day.

“Get dressed, do everything I need in the bathroom, leave,” Harris said.

And would he eat breakfast at home or at the Braves’ spring training facility?

“I don’t,” Harris said. “Neither.”

Wait, what? No breakfast?

“No,” Harris said. “Just go straight to it.”

Apparently, he’s always been this way.

“I’ve never, like, just got up and was hungry to eat,” Harris said. “I can’t, like, just force myself to eat in the morning either, so I just go straight to working out.”

After getting ready for the day, Harris heads to the facility.

8 a.m. arrival

Each morning, Harris will pull into the players’ parking lot, park his car and walk toward the clubhouse. (When you see pictures of players walking into spring training, this is usually where they’re taken.)

He then enters the clubhouse, where he’ll see his teammates and coaches.

“I guess it’s kind of like walking into school. Seeing your classmates every day when you walk into school,” Harris said. “So I feel like that’s kind of the closest (comparison) you can (make) for some of the outsiders to feel what we feel. It’s just like walking into your first class in the morning and everybody getting settled before the assignments well before class actually starts.”

One of the unique aspects of spring training is this: In a sport that plays late into the night, the season begins with early mornings. For anyone working in baseball, spring training is the closest they’ll ever be to a normal person’s work schedule.

If you’re around the Braves’ clubhouse enough, it becomes clear that everyone loves Harris. In under a full year in the majors, Harris has built great relationships with everyone around the organization.

“He’s a wonderful young man,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You meet mom and dad, you understand why – and how nice the family is. When we signed him to the extension, I met all the aunts, I met mom and dad, everybody.

“Everybody has loved this kid ever since we’ve had him in camp and in the minor leagues. That’s been the big thing: The kid’s makeup, his demeanor, the coachability of him and everything. Just a wonderful young man.”

After arriving in the clubhouse and getting dressed – going from street clothes to athletic wear – Harris often stretches, lifts weights or hits in the cage in the hour or so before the Braves’ team stretch.

9:30 a.m. team stretch

The Braves’ team stretch signals the beginning of a workout. Before it starts, Harris gets dressed in his navy blue spring training uniform and cap.

During the workout, Harris will do defensive drills with the outfielders. He might take batting practice or face one of his teammates during a live batting practice session.

Harris gets done late in the morning and then goes back into the clubhouse to chill before the game. (Before spring games start, players can leave whenever they’re done working out, so they depart earlier than they do on game days.)

And in the period of time before the game, Harris will often eat for the first time that day.


Harris begins listing the different offerings in the Braves’ clubhouse cafeteria, which always smells great.

They have steak …

Lobster …

Sometimes, there’s fish …

Chicken …

“It’s a good spread every day,” Harris said. “It’s a big-league spread.”

So, what’s his go-to lunch?

“Uncrustables,” Harris said.

Yes, it is true: Each day, despite the exquisite eats a few steps away, Harris eats two or three Uncrustables, which are sealed, crustless sandwiches that don’t need any prep and don’t make a mess.

And that’s all Harris, one of baseball’s rising stars, eats between the time he wakes up and the time he steps foot on the field for that day’s game. Nothing else – not even a protein shake.

The Braves don’t have a problem with this.

“They know,” Harris said. “I’ve been like this ever since I got drafted.”

The game

During spring training, players build up to regular-season form. At the start, the regulars get two at-bats and a few innings in the field. Then it becomes three at-bats. Eventually, they play close to a full game.

In games, Harris showcases his talents. He could be a five-tool player for a long time. He’s that good.

His personality is also infectious.

“He has the perfect blend of the great teammate and being himself, having fun, keeping it light,” Grissom said. “It’s not a job. As soon as it turns into a job for him, I’m sure he’s not gonna be producing like he does. For him to keep it light and keep it a game is elite.”

Harris plays until Snitker tells him his afternoon is over. Then he leaves the game, heads back to the clubhouse and showers.

“And then, I guess, go back home and do whatever after that,” Harris said.

Free time after baseball

If Harris doesn’t play in the game that day, he might play golf if his body feels up to it. If he plays, he’ll usually chill at home after his workout concludes.

At the house, which is near the facility, he might play video games or watch TV. “Might actually watch some more spring training games,” Harris said. You might think a baseball player wouldn’t watch other spring games, but Harris does “because I know some guys that are playing in games, and I’ll just turn it on and see what they’re doing.”

Baseball is a grind. The long season can be grueling.

Multiple times this spring, Snitker has said there’s only so much a player can accomplish on a given day in spring training. The Braves encourage players to come in and do their work, then go enjoy their free time.

It’s important for players to have other hobbies, such as golf, for their spare time.

“It’s good to get out and do stuff other than baseball every day,” Harris said. “Just being able to get out and clear your mind and do some other things that you enjoy, away from your job. It’s been good. A lot of us play (golf), so we get out there together, too.”

11 p.m. bedtime

Each night, Harris usually goes to bed around 11. This isn’t easy for everyone.

“I couldn’t either,” Harris said, “but I just started to get sleepy earlier.”

This is what happens when you’re up around 7 a.m. and put in a full day’s work in the coming hours. By this time next month, everyone in the baseball world will have adjusted their schedules for the late nights. But for now, early mornings are necessary.

“Normally, I didn’t go to sleep before 12,” Harris said. “I’ve always been like that, too. It’s been weird going to sleep earlier.”

In bed, Harris goes on TikTok, the popular social media platform that shows users short videos. TikTok can be addicting because the videos one sees are curated based on the ones they’ve already watched.

It can be a time suck.

“When I first got on it, I would be on it for a while,” Harris said. “But now I know how to manage it and get off when I need to.”

In the final minutes of his day, Harris is usually entertained by those TikTok videos.

“When I get sleepy, I put the phone down,” he said.

He falls asleep, marking the end of another day.

Soon, he’ll wake up and begin the next day of a career that is off to an incredible start.

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