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Harrington signs with Fort Worth

By John Manuel
July 8, 2002

Matt Harrington
Photo: Larry Goren
For Matt Harrington, some things change, but some things stay the same.

Harrington, the longest holdout in draft history, signed his third professional contract on July 4, signing a standard contract with the Fort Worth Cats of the independent Central League (formerly the Texas-Louisiana League). It's his third indy ball stint, following last spring's six-game fling with the Northern League and this spring's short-lived Western League effort.

Neither of Harrington's prior pro-ball experiences have been positive. The Long Beach Breakers released Harrington shortly after a poor start June 26 against Yuma. He went 0-3, 6.68 for the Breakers, and was just 0-2, 9.47 in 19 innings for the St. Paul Saints last year.

Harrington made his debut Sunday night against the Springfield/Ozark Mountain Ducks, and the results were familiar. He gave up five runs (all earned) while getting five outs, giving up five hits. He hit a batter, walked three and struck out three, getting the loss in a 10-6 defeat. The Mountain Ducks, just 23-25, had lost their previous six games.

According to the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Harrington escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first without giving up a run but was chased in the second. Scouts from the Cardinals, Mets, Orioles and Phillies were in the stands, according to the News-Leader.

Harrington's manager in Fort Worth, Marty Scott, is a familiar face. As executive vice president of the Saints, Scott helped sign Harrington to his first professional contract last year.

Harrington's holdout history is unrivaled. The Rockies made him the seventh overall pick in the 2000 draft out of Palmdale (Calif.) High, but he didn't sign, spurning a $4 million bonus offer. He auditioned for the 2001 draft by pitching for the Saints, and the Padres picked him in the second round (58th overall).

This spring, after switching agents from Tommy Tanzer to Scott Boras, Harrington turned down a reported $1.2 million offer from the Padres. The Devil Rays currently have his rights in Organized Baseball, having drafted him in the 13th round in the 2002 draft.

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