SAN FRANCISCO -- Relief pitcher Will Harris prepared himself for another line of work in 2009, when he was about to undergo complicated right elbow surgery that would make him a non-factor in the Rockies' plans for two years.
Having recently become a father, Harris promised himself he would not live with any regrets if the operation -- not only Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, but a microfracture procedure to correct cartilage problems with the elbow -- didn't allow him to continue pursuing baseball. He even made plans to return to LSU and earn a degree.
"I was in a hotel the night before my surgery," Harris said. "But I kind of came to terms with the fact that I might not be able to continue, or whatever I'd get out of the game from then on was going to be lagniappe -- it was going to be extra. It was a making peace with it kind of moment."
Now Harris, 26, could be getting everything possible out of the game. The Rockies called him up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday. It wasn't until the fifth inning of Saturday's 9-3 loss to the Giants that Harris arrived at AT&T Park and made himself a player by signing his contract.
But he was still focused on his career. He went to LSU for one semester. Although it left him a semester short of graduation, he put school back on the back burner -- he was majoring in general studies, so he hadn't actually picked what he wanted to do beyond baseball -- and worked toward the Majors. Harris hadn't returned to the mound until last season, when he went 3-2 with a 5.55 ERA in 33 games at Class A Modesto. He began the year as one of the old men at Double-A Tulsa.
"Playing with the guys in the Texas League this year guys were saying, 'These are your first innings in Double-A,' and I'd say, 'Well, actually, three years ago, I was here, but I didn't pitch,'" Harris said, smiling.
Harris caught up quickly, going 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 44 combined games at Tulsa and Colorado Springs. He earned the callup by striking out 66 against 13 walks.