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Will Harris should be big part of Washington Nationals’ 2021 bullpen...

After a slow start in spring training 1.0, veteran right-hander pitched well down the stretch …

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Some players for the Nationals seemed to be just getting warmed up when the 60-game season came to an end Sunday.

One of those was veteran reliever Will Harris, 36, who was signed to a three-year deal as a free agent before this season.

The right-hander did not allow a run in his last six appearances and held the opposition hitless in three of those games.

He finished his first year in Washington with a record of 0-1, 3.06 in 20 games with one save. That came after a slow start when he reported to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Pitching coach Paul Menhart figures Harris is in great shape for 2021.

“Absolutely, absolutely. As you recall back when we first got him at Spring Training 1.0, he had an abdominal issue” in late February, Menhart told Federal Baseball.

Harris gave up five hits and two runs in his first three outings with the Nationals then settled down.

He allowed just four runs in the month of September with his last outing in the first game of the doubleheader Saturday as he got the save against the Mets in a 4-3 victory.

“It was extremely encouraging and nice to see him go out there and show us who he is,” Menhart said.

Harris is from Baton Rouge and played for Colorado, Arizona, and Houston before signing with the Nationals.

He allowed the home run to Howie Kendrick in Game 7 of the World Series last October while with the Astros.

But the LSU product did have ties to the mid-Atlantic region before the 2020 season.

While in college he played for the Staunton (Va.) Braves in the Valley Baseball League, a wood-bat, NCAA-sanctioned circuit in the Shenandoah Valley that has been around for decades.

Harris was a third baseman and pitcher when he reported to Staunton.

“Great summer — back when I could still hit,” Harris told this reporter on Zoom during this season. “We had some really good guys. We had some big leaguers on our team.”

“We used him mainly in a middle relief, closer role,” recalls Lawrence Nesselrodt, the Braves’ manager that summer. “The biggest characteristic we saw in him was a passion and love for the game.”

That Staunton team in 2003 had nine players who were eventually drafted. Those that made the majors, aside from Harris, included the University of Virginia standout Joe Koshansky; pitcher Matt Fox, drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2004; and Gaby Sanchez, who was named to the MLB All-Star game in 2011 while with the Marlins.