Harris tutoring Young, Lopez
No longer everyday starters, duo get insight from veteran
WASHINGTON -- Nationals hitting coach Lenny Harris is considered the best pinch-hitter of all time, and for good reason. During his 18-year career, Harris collected a Major League record 212 pinch-hits.
Now, Harris must teach the role he mastered to first baseman Dmitri Young and infielder Felipe Lopez. On Saturday, manager Manny Acta announced that Young and Lopez will be on the bench, and both players have limited experience as pinch-hitters.
Harris said it's not going to be easy for Young and Lopez to learn their roles off the bench. The one thing they must do is be aggressive and swing the bat. Sometimes, they can't afford to be patient and learn the pitcher in one at-bat.
"They have to change their mentality right now," said Harris. "They have to go up there and be aggressive. I have to let them know that after one at-bat they are not going to hit again. It's going to be a while for those guys, because they were playing every day, but once they figure it out, they will be OK."
Asked why he became a pinch-hitting extraordinaire, Harris said that former Reds and Dodgers teammate Eric Davis told Harris that since the latter was not going to be a regular in the big leagues, he would have to learn how to pinch-hit.
"I took it very seriously," said Harris. "He said, 'You could do it, but it's up to you.'"
Harris took pinch-hitting seriously for 18 years.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.