Good Reason to Smile for Harris

There are a lot of smiles around the Mitch Harris household these days–in part because the St. Louis Cardinals reliever is making some strides in his pitching, but more importantly there is going to be a new addition to the family.

“Once we found out everything was healthy and everything looked good, we wanted to get that out there,” shared Harris about the good news he and his wife Mandi recently received. “We’re super-excited, it’s going to be an awesome Christmas this year. We’re due sometime in the first couple weeks of December.”

16-2-24 HarrisBesides preparing for fatherhood, Harris is continuing to work towards getting back on the pitching mound.

Dealing with extreme soreness in his upper right arm since Spring Training, Harris had previously undergone a nerve conduction test and MRIs ruled out structural issues in his neck and elbow. But after continued issues of not feeling right, another battery of tests was recently conducted.

“In my eyes, it was kind of a last, just a double-check everything because it was so hard to get a diagnosis,” explained Harris. “We were unsure if it was a little bit of a nerve issue, but also maybe a little over use of some muscles that were kind of neurologically almost shutting down–because if you overwork something, your body just shuts it down to make sure it doesn’t injure itself.”

Going over these various situations, Harris wanted to make sure that everything was still structurally sound before he tried to further push through the process.

“Knowing myself, if someone says we can push it, I’m going to give it a 110,” he said. “I just didn’t want to do that without knowing for a fact that everything was clear structurally. We did everything again up in St. Louis–verified, double-checked, and triple-checked and we are so excited to finally know that everything is very clear. Structurally, everything is great.”

The tough part remains that the exact cause of the discomfort is still undetermined. Drafted in 2008 out of the Naval Academy, Harris had to put baseball on hold and fulfill his military obligation before joining the Cardinals in 2013. Since then, he’s steadily upped his workload as he arrived in the big leagues last season. Could that extended time off and workload since be a contributing factor to the discomfort?

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals“It could be–there’s so many different scenarios that you could bring up to say this is what’s causing it,” notes Harris.

“I made some mechanical adjustments in the off-season so I could repeat stuff more often and make sure that everything is more sound coming into this year, so that could’ve contributed to it as well.”

So while the cause may not be locked down, the confidence to forge ahead on the rehab is paying dividends.

“We’ve been able to push it and actually, that’s helped out,” said Harris. “Now that we’ve pushed a couple of these things, a lot of that soreness has gone away. So I’m really excited because what was affecting me before is not affecting me anymore.”

Currently throwing from long distances and some flat grounds close to work on pitches, Harris is getting eager to return to the mound and ramp up to full effort on his throws.

“Ideally, this go-round we’re going to try and spend a little more time on the mound–meaning a few more bullpens, maybe another extra live bullpen, and maybe a couple more innings than I would have the previous time just to make sure we run it through any and all tests that we can,” explained Harris. “Given that, we’re probably looking at another couple of weeks.”

“Things can vary, but I think we’re only a couple of weeks out from being at that 100% on the mound with hitters.”

PHAM TO SPRINGFIELD

–The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that the rehab assignment for Tommy Pham has been transferred to Springfield (AA). Pham had the last couple of days off and was re-checked in St. Louis as he continues to recover from a left oblique strain. His reassignment to Springfield was based on home games versus heading out on the road to rejoin Memphis.

Pham had four hits in 18 at-bats during his six games with Memphis.

photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports, St. Louis Baseball Weekly, Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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