“It’s kind of crazy,” Harris said Wednesday. “I never expected something like that. Growing up as a kid, I would be the kid that goes to the game and sits anywhere and is excited about it. I guess sitting that close and then being able to exchange your jersey with another professional, it’s really crazy. I don’t even know how to put it into words because I never expected it. It’s crazy.
“Hopefully somebody else is excited to meet me like I was excited to get on that floor and meet another professional.”
This is now life for Harris, who turns 22 in March but is already one of baseball’s rising stars. He should have many more opportunities like that as his career progresses, especially if he continues playing like he did as a rookie.
Harris won National League Rookie of the Year for his incredible 2022 season. In the offseason, he met Murray, started a foundation, received his Rookie of the Year award at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in New York, bowled, golfed and did much more. At Braves Fest last month, Harris remarked that his offseason might’ve been busier than his season.
Of Murray, Harris said: “He was a really good guy. I just love watching him play.”
At the awards dinner, Dana Brown, now the Astros general manager, introduced Harris and presented him with the award. Even before that, Harris sent Brown a congratulatory text after he got the job as Astros general manager. Brown drafted Harris while working as the Braves’ vice president of scouting.
“I mean, I feel like he’s really fit for the job,” Harris said.
He then jokingly added: “It just sucks it has to be for the Astros.”
Then there’s the love Harris experienced from his hometown. In 2020, Stockbridge High, his alma mater, retired his number. Recently, Stockbridge High celebrated Harris with a “Michael Harris II Day” and unveiled a sign honoring Harris in front of the school.
“That was crazy as well,” Harris said. “I mean, another thing I never expected. It already was crazy that they retired the jersey in 2020. It was something else I didn’t really expect, putting up the sign in front of the school, just being honored from the school I went to. They’re putting a banner up in the gym. It’s kind of crazy that they’re doing all this for me.
“I never really wanted this or saw that type of goal in my life, but I’m kind of glad it’s happening.”
Pitchers and catchers (officially) report
Max Fried, fresh off a season in which he finished second in NL Cy Young voting, reported to camp on Wednesday, which marked the mandatory reporting date for all pitchers and catchers.
Usually, this is a big day. This time, not so much – most of the Braves, including position players, reported early and have been here.
Fried, Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson were all present. (Mike Soroka was not in the clubhouse while reporters were allowed in on Wednesday morning, but was expected to still arrive a bit later). Bryce Elder and Kolby Allard have also reported.
Among the relievers who could be seen in the clubhouse Wednesday: Raisel Iglesias, Joe Jiménez, A.J. Minter, Collin McHugh, Kirby Yates and Nick Anderson.
Catchers Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud are here. Third baseman Austin Riley, first baseman Matt Olson and Harris have been here, as has outfielder Ronald Acuña.
Outfielders Eli White and Sam Hilliard have also reported to camp, as has outfielder Kevin Pillar.
How to listen to Braves spring training games on the radio
This spring, all Saturday and Sunday spring training games will be carried on 680 The Fan (680 AM/97.3 FM). These weekend games will also be on the Braves Radio Network.
All weekday spring training games will be on ESPN Atlanta (1340 AM/103.7 FM). You can also listen on the 680 The Fan app.
Ben Ingram – the Braves’ radio play-by-play voice who was named the National Sports Media Association’s sportscaster of the year in Georgia – will call every one of these games. He will work with either Joe Simpson, Peter Moylan, Nick Green or Kelly Johnson.