Once a journeyman, Harris key to Astros' bullpen

Once a journeyman, Harris key to Astros' bullpen

HOUSTON -- Will Harris has turned into a dominant force for the Astros this season.

Harris has emerged as the club's closer, is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has a 0.83 ERA.

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So should he be in San Diego next month for the All-Star Game?

His manager certainly thinks so.

"There's not a doubt in my mind that man should be in San Diego," manager A.J. Hinch said.

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Harris' teammates agree.

"If not, I'll be disappointed," second baseman Jose Altuve said, "and I'll be talking in front of you guys really bad about who decided to leave him off the All-Star team."

But the decision's not up to Hinch, Altuve or even the fans, as pitchers aren't included on the fan ballot.

Harris earns the save

"Who knows?" Harris said. "There would probably be a lot of K.C. guys getting in there."

For the second year in a row, that duty will be left up to American League All-Star manager Ned Yost, who had the option of picking Harris for the 2015 All-Star Game but didn't.

"Last year, I was basically kind of doing the same thing I'm doing this year and just came a little short," Harris said. "I won't be too disappointed if it doesn't work out. If it does, it'll be an honor."

To play in San Diego would be an incredible experience for a player who's been through a lot to get his career to where it is. The 31-year-old right-hander had microfracture surgery and Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm in 2009, three years after he was drafted in the ninth round by the Rockies out of Louisiana State University.

"I called [my wife] before my surgeries and said, 'Hey, look, this could be it, so you need to prepare,'" Harris said. "But it all worked out in the end. I feel lucky and blessed."

After being called up in 2012, Harris bounced around the Majors for a few seasons. He was claimed by the Athletics in 2013, waived three days later and picked up by the D-backs, who ultimately put him on waivers. The Astros picked Harris up in November 2014.

Harris seals second save

Harris' remarkable journey isn't lost on Hinch.

"Obviously, it means a lot to every player," Hinch said, "but [especially] when a player has endured the type of career that Will has … it would mean a lot to call him into my office and let him know that his season's been rewarded."

With the Astros opening a set against Yost's Royals on Friday at Kauffman Stadium, Hinch said he'll put in a good word.

"I'll tell him every time I see him," Hinch said. "Three days in a row, I'll shake his hand and say, 'Will Harris should go with you to San Diego.'"

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.