Braves Rumors: Michael Harris II breakout inspired by unlikely teammate
The expectations for Michael Harris II in year two after winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2022 with the Braves were enormous. And to say that he hasn’t lived up to them this season would be an understatement.
Not only did the centerfielder miss time due to injury earlier in the year, but his time on the field has been problematic with immense struggles at the plate. On Wednesday night against the Mets, though, that changed as Harris began what could be his breakout for the 2023 campaign in a big way.
Harris capped off a 3-for-4 night with a monster eighth inning as he robbed Mark Canha of an extra-base hit with a phenomenal grab in the top of the frame and then put a ball over the centerfield fence with a two-run blast that ultimately proved to be the game-winner for the Braves. He finished the night with three RBI and a pair of extra-base hits to his credit.
Fully aware of his struggles this season, Harris was asked what helped inspire his breakout night. His answer: Fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Harris spoke to David O’Brien of The Athletic (subscription required) about a conversation he and Ozuna had on Tuesday that changed the young centerfielder’s mindset.
"“He told me my season was starting with that at-bat,” Harris said. “And ever since then I’ve been hitting the ball hard and seeing it good. He just reminded me that I have the potential to be one of the better players in the league, and just believe in myself and go out there and not worry about mechanical things, just go out there and play.”"
Even after his big night to clinch the series win against the Mets, Harris is still hitting just .181 on the year with a dismal .552 OPS. However, if you’re one to believe in immediate results, Ozuna’s pep talk to change Harris’ mentality might’ve just unlocked the player that we all thought we’d see for the 2023 season.