Breakers give up on Harrington
By Blair Lovern
Harrington, trying to pitch his way back into form and finally start his career in Organized Baseball, has stamped his ticket out of the independent leagues. And it's not the most flattering way to go.
Harrington, who has run up a 0-3, 6.68 record with the Long Beach Breakers in the independent Western League, gave up four first-inning runs on five hits, in a 7-1 loss to the Yuma Bullfrogs on June 26.
"I've seen enough of that," Breakers manager Steve Yeager told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. "He has no business being here. He can't pitch here. If I can find somebody else, he's out of here. I'm tired of being down three-four runs in the first couple innings."
Long Beach released the 20-year-old righthander a few days later.
If the team didn't have so few arms, Curtis said, Harrington would have been gone sooner. Harrington could not be reached for comment.
"The world Matt is living in now is kind of a difficult one, not only for him but for the rest of us," Curtis said. "He's trying to establish market value for himself, when what really matters for us is to win ballgames.
"The condition that he came to us in was that he was still in this mode of, 'Well, I'll show them.' He's very velocity-oriented now and he's trying to show people, scouts and administrators again that the kid everyone saw in high school is still here. But more importantly he's not able to get on with his pitching education. One, he needs to pitch against kids his own age and development level, and he needs to get on with his professional life."
"To his credit he comes to the ballpark every day works hard, works well with his teammates and he's had a great deal of support here but it hasn't worked out."
Harrington's fortunes continue a decline from two years ago, when the Rockies made him the seventh overall pick in the 2000 draft coming out of high school in California. He was regarded as perhaps the most talented player in the draft, but he turned down $4 million from the Rockies after acrimonious negotiations.
He had pitched little during his holdout, so he tried to regain his form with St. Paul in the independent Northern League. He had a 9.47 ERA in 18 innings, and the Padres made him a second-round pick in last year's draft.
Harrington also switched agents, from Tommy Tanzer to Scott Boras, but his outlook has not improved. Harrington and the Padres could not get close to a deal in their negotiations, so he went to pitch for Long Beach this summer. The Padres offered a package worth $1.2 million, but Boras reportedly sought twice that amount.
The results in Long Beach have not been encouraging, and when he went into the draft for a third consecutive year, Harrington fell to the Devil Rays in the 13th round.
Earlier this month, Harrington was upbeat about his time with the Breakers and with Curtis. "John is really helping out," he said. "I really feel like he is helping me start my career here."
The Padres decided not to sign Harrington after watching a five-inning start with Long Beach in May. The Devil Rays were one of the other teams to scout Harrington in the Western League before the draft.
"Matt was throwing 93 with good life," Padres scouting director Bill Gayton said then. "His breaking ball was 74-77, but he couldn't throw it for a strike, and he had no command. Based on where he was at, we told him to re-enter the draft."
The Devil Rays aren't expected to offer anything close to what the Rockies or Padres did. Members of the Devil Rays organization said they expect the team to offer Harrington standard money for a 13th-round pick, which could range from $5,000 for a college senior (who has no negotiating leverage) to about $200,000.
Matt Harrington's seven starts with the Western League's Long Beach Breakers have been mostly disappointing, leading to his likely release by the club:
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