‘It’s a lot that goes into it’: Michael Harris making an impact on the base paths

WASHINGTON – On TV, you see Michael Harris reach first base and, a couple of minutes later, steal second.

But in the time between stepping on first base and collecting another stolen base, a lot goes through the standout rookie’s mind.

“It’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t really think about,” Harris said. “They think it’s just run and try to be safe, but it’s a lot that actually goes into it.”

Harris entered Wednesday with 20 stolen bases, the most for a Braves rookie since Rafael Furcal swiped 40 bags in 2000. (Furcal won National League Rookie of the Year that season, and Harris could take home the award this year). Harris has been caught stealing only twice.

Harris, who has 19 home runs, needs one more to have a 20-20 season. He would become the 14th rookie in MLB history, and the third this season, to do that.

When Harris is at first base, he evaluates a pitcher’s move. Is it fast? Is it slow? He also thinks about what the pitcher will throw to a hitter in a specific situation. Pregame studying and in-game instincts are crucial.

“You can go over it in pregame, but unless you’re on the field, sometimes that stuff just doesn’t look the same as it does on camera,” Harris said. “It’s just doing your work before the game and then just being mentally focused during the game and even in the dugout, seeing his move against other guys on base before you even get a chance to get on base.”

Eric Young Sr., the Braves’ first base coach, also helps. Young has a stopwatch and times a pitcher to see how long it takes from the time he comes up and begins to throw a pitch to when the ball hits the catcher’s mitt. Young also gets the signs to steal a base from third base coach Ron Washington, in case Harris doesn’t catch them.

A lot goes into it.

Then again, Harris is a terrific athlete. He’s always been able to steal bases.

“I’ve always been one of the quicker guys on the field,” Harris said. “I don’t really like to force, but in the right situation, I try to take the base when I can. It’s pretty much been a part of me my whole life.”

Harris is a five-tool center fielder who has done it all for the Braves this season. He has turned heads, whether it’s with his bat, glove or legs.

“Everything he’s done has been impressive,” manager Brian Snitker said. “The entire game, everything he’s done and what he’s meant to our club. I don’t know if we’d be where we’re at right now without him, quite honestly. It’s been really big what he’s meant for this team.”

Added Harris: “That’s just what I came into the year wanting to do. Whether I was in the minors or up here, just make an impact wherever I am. Baserunning, hitting, defensively, I just always want to make an impact to help us win, and I feel like I’ve been doing that, so I’m really proud of myself.”

The latest on the Braves’ series with the Mets

Hurricane Ian is expected to bring rain to Atlanta. MLB has monitored this.

As it stands, there are a few possibilities for how things could play out if rain impacts this weekend.

Friday’s game could be moved from a night game to a day game if that helps the clubs play a full nine innings.

Sunday could be a split-doubleheader.

One or two games could be played on Oct. 6 – the day after the regular-season finale – if they are necessary to decide the NL East champion.

The Braves will be ready for anything.

“I think that’s the special thing about this team is no matter where, when, we’ll strap it up and go,” Dansby Swanson said. “Doesn’t matter who we’re playing, where we’re playing, feel like we have confidence in ourselves and in our group that we’re going to go out there and put our best foot forward, and that’s what matters. I think the more you can keep that mentality, the better shape you’ll be in.”

Kye Muller optioned

The Braves on Wednesday optioned Kyle Muller, who gave them 4-2/3 innings on Tuesday. Muller gave up two earned runs.

They selected right-hander Silvino Bracho to the major-league roster. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Braves recalled Huascar Ynoa and placed him on the 60-day injured list.

Ynoa recently underwent Tommy John surgery. This move does not mean he is coming back after those 60 days – it is simply a way to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Arcia’ streak

Entering Wednesday, Orlando Arcia had homered in his last five games with an at-bat at Nationals Park. That’s tied for the longest home run streak in the ballpark’s history with … teammate Dansby Swanson.

Arcia appeared in two games as a defensive replacement during his streak – on July 14 and July 16 – but he did not receive a plate appearance in those, so his streak continued.

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