Rounding the Bases with Colin Harrington
Colin Harrington has waited patiently for the opportunity to become an everyday starter at Virginia. After redshirting in 2010 and playing primarily against left-handed pitchers in 2011, Harrington has gotten his shot this year. The native of Johnstown, Pa., is batting .288 through UVa’s first 25 games. He has played in 23 of those contests. Harrington also is the quintessential student-athlete; he was the valedictorian of his high school class, currently is a chemistry major and hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon after he finishes his baseball career. Never at a loss for words, Harrington talks about school, baseball and much more in the latest edition of Rounding the Bases.
Talk about the season thus far and getting the chance to play every game.
Harrington: It’s been a good transition. Last year I only started against left-handed pitchers and then this year they gradually transitioned me into starting against righties and lefties. That has been new for me and it’s a nice challenge and I think I’ve been doing okay with that. As far as the team goes, we haven’t had as much success as we have had in the past two or three years since I’ve been here. I don’t think we got our fifth loss until probably about midway to the end of the season last year, so it’s been a little challenging and I think a lot of the guys, including the veterans, don’t know how to take losing as frequently as we have been. But I think we’re responding well and I think we’re getting better and better each day.
Talk about battling through the losses.
Harrington: I think a lot of that burden is on the veterans. A lot of those guys try to keep the demeanor and the atmosphere in the locker room as positive as much as possible even after those losses. We just try to think of it like we’re in most of those games, aside from Liberty, we were in almost every game that we have lost. We say ‘pitch away, hit away’ just to keep our minds off the fact that we did lose.
Do you look at yourself as a veteran yet?
Harrington: Yes, I think last year I got to see John Barr and David Coleman and some of those guys in the outfield and how they were leaders and veterans and how they acted on and off the field. I’ve tried to do that, especially now because I’m one of the older guys in the outfield, Reed (Gragnani) and me, to mentor and teach Mike Papi and Derek Fisher the ropes of things.
Do you model your game off anybody?
Harrington: I get a lot of comparisons to John Barr. He is a good friend of mine so I take that as a compliment with all the success he had here. I kind of see myself as a contact guy, the guy who is going to get a clutch hit at the end of the game. A guy that will handle the bat well, bunt, hit and run. So I guess John Barr would be my comparison.
Who did you look up to growing up as a player?
Harrington: As a player I was a big Cal Ripken fan. Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter as well because I played infield in high school. Derek Jeter is obviously one of the best shortstops ever, so I also looked up to him when I was growing up.
Was it a big switch coming to college and switching to outfield?
Harrington: It wasn’t because all through high school and all through summer baseball and even through some of those fall leagues I played in, I would either be middle infield or they would throw me out in the outfield and I would play center field, so I was kind of ready to take on whatever I could do to play. I just wanted to hit so wherever I played, I played.
Why did you pick UVa?
Harrington: Academics came first obviously. I just wanted to get a good education and when they called, it was just the perfect fit. Also the success that they had. They went to Omaha the year before I got here and with the academics it was a no-brainer for me.
Talk about your academic pursuits.
Harrington: I’m a chemistry major right now and I’m taking organic chemistry, physics, and a bio lab this semester, so I’ve kind of got a pretty tight schedule. I’m looking at hopefully going to med school and becoming an orthopedic surgeon down the road.
What makes you interested in that?
Harrington: I always just wanted to stay around the game even after I finished playing and I’ve always wanted to help people and help athletes, and an orthopedic surgeon gets to work with athletes-so I think that is kind of my calling.
How challenging is your current schedule?
Harrington: It was really tough in the fall. I would miss Wednesdays and sometimes I’d be late for practice Friday. It was tough because some of the labs are four- or five-hour labs right in the middle of the day. The day is shot because we start here at about 2:00 every day. So if you have a lab from 2-6 you’re really not going to practice. It was even tougher this year with the morning conditioning three days a week. But you get through it and it becomes easier throughout the year.
Is it hard to balance everything during the season?
Harrington: Well this semester I’m only taking 14 credits and then planning on doing some summer school credits this summer. So it’s not as bad as it was in the fall, especially with organic chemistry and physics.
Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn’t know.
Harrington: Every home game after we do our jumps, like 15 minutes before the game, I pray with my grandfather’s rosary before every game. He passed away two years ago and pretty much was the father figure in my life. He meant a lot to me, so when he passed my grandma actually gave me his rosary as a keepsake to remember him by.
Food: Chicken Parmesan
Spot on Grounds: O-Hill Dining Hall
Baseball moment: Game 3 of the 2011 Super Regional vs. UC Irvine when Chris Taylor hit the walk-off single
Class: Organic Chemistry with Dr. Marshall
Music: Classic Rock
Artist: Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin
Pro Sports Team: Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates
Movie: Old School
TV Show: Spartacus