But unpredictable circumstances pushed the 31-year-old Harris into his Major League debut early Tuesday night. Harris, promoted from Triple-A Tacoma, provided five shutout innings in relief before Seattle broke open a tight ballgame to notch a 4-1 victory against Detroit.
"I've been a lot of places in the last few years," said Harris. "Just to be here is incredible."
Two separate developments paved the path to Comerica Park and opened a spot for Harris. The Mariners first placed Jeff Nelson on the bereavement list, as the reliever remained in Seattle to attend his father-in-law's funeral. And starter Jorge Campillo, another Tacoma callup, left the game after the first inning with a strained right elbow.
Harris, signed by Seattle as a free agent out of the Mexican League, responded by limiting the Tigers to three hits before a crowd of 30,306.
"For some guys, it takes awhile before the light goes on," manager Mike Hargrove said of Harris, who began his professional career in 1995.
For the Mariners offense, the light began to flicker in the decisive eighth inning. Jeremy Reed led off with a single to center. Dave Hansen then dropped a bunt that third baseman Brandon Inge fielded roughly halfway between home plate and the mound. Reed raced to third and slid in headfirst as catcher Ivan Rodriguez handled the throw from first baseman Chris Shelton. Reed skidded past the bag, but dove back safely before a flailing Rodriguez could apply the tag.
"That's a tough play for a catcher," Hargrove said. "Jeremy made a good read."
After Wiki Gonzalez walked, Yuniesky Betancourt, playing in his fifth career game in the Majors, took a Jason Johnson sinker and grounded it past a drawn in Inge down the third-base line. The double scored Reed and snapped a 1-1 tie.
"You never know how a kid's going to react in that situation," Hargrove said of Betancourt. "But he did well."
Johnson intentionally walked Ichiro to load the bases, then got Willie Bloomquist to pop out. After Jamie Walker was brought in to relieve Johnson, Raul Ibanez singled to center, scoring the game's final two runs.
Johnson (7-9) finished the evening by taking the loss after allowing four runs on five hits.
Julio Mateo (3-4) recorded the victory for Seattle, despite allowing a home run to Rodriguez in his only inning of work. Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 25th save of the year.
The victory provided relief on a busy day when pitcher Ryan Franklin received a 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.
"It was nice to play baseball," Hargrove admitted afterward.
Campillo will return to Seattle for further tests on his right elbow, while Harris will continue to stay in the big leagues, at least for two more days. The Minor League veteran, whose wife flew to Detroit for the game, laughed when asked about his familiarity with the Tigers lineup.
"I've seen them on TV," Harris said.
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.