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Notes: Harris ponders retirement
04/03/2004 3:20 PM ET
JUPITER, Fla. -- Opening Day will carry special meaning for Lenny Harris, baseball's all-time pinch-hit leader, because the Marlins will hoist the World Series banner.

On a personal note, Tuesday likely will be Harris' last opener.

Harris, 39, is contemplating retirement when the season ends.

"There is nothing wrong with retiring with still some gas left in the tank," said Harris, who has 181 lifetime pinch-hits. "Most likely, this will be my last Opening Day."

A 15-year veteran, Harris is a career .263 (181-for-688) as a pinch-hitter.

After starting the 2003 season with the Cubs, he was signed by the Marlins on Aug. 8 and was on the World Series roster.

With the Marlins, Harris will primarily be used as a pinch-hitter who may see occasional action at third base.

Harris made his Major League debut in 1988 with the Reds, and the Marlins are his eighth team.

Harris agreed to sign a prior-consent waiver with the Marlins, stating he would accept a minor league assignment should the team choose to send him down in the first 45 days of the season. If Harris declined to sign the waiver, as a five-plus year veteran, he would be free to sign with another team if he was sent down.

Toward the end of last year's Spring Training, Al Martin refused to sign the waiver. He was released and signed later in the day with the Devil Rays.

"A five-plus player has total right to block any assignment to the minor leagues," Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said. "He can refuse any assignment to the minor leagues. This gives us 45 days where we can outright the player, and he'd be sent to that assignment. We are then responsible for the split salary, the minor league rate, and not the Major League rate."

Harris and infielder Damion Easley both agreed to sign the prior-consent waiver.

Harris said he never heard of such a waiver until presented with it by the Marlins. And while he can be outrighted after 45 days, Harris doesn't worry about any additional pressure to remain on the club.

"When you are sitting there, you already have got pressure," he said. "When you are sitting there on the bench all day and have to go out there to try to win a ball game; or to go out there and play defense. How much more pressure do you need? But that's the name of the game.

"If you don't get it done, what's next? You're out of here. It's not like they have time to wait and see. That's just the name of game. You either do or you don't."

  Jeff Conine   /   IF/OF
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
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Conine sees doctor: Left fielder Jeff Conine has missed the last three games due to a sinus infection. The veteran showed up to camp Saturday but didn't stay long.

Conine visited with a doctor, and he wasn't scheduled to make the trip to Albuquerque on Saturday night for Sunday's exhibition with the Triple-A Isotopes.

Conine is still expected to be ready for Tuesday's opener.

Staying behind: Conine isn't the only regular not making the trip to Albuquerque.

Mike Lowell, who has been bothered by a sore right elbow, didn't make the trip to prevent aggravating his arm. And Tuesday's starter, Josh Beckett, is staying in Florida.

Beckett will throw a bullpen session on Sunday in Jupiter.

Banks has surgery: Veteran Brian Banks, who was released on March 31 and offered a minor league contract, underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in his right knee on Friday.

Beinfest said the outfielder will be out six-to-eight weeks.

After being released, the Marlins offered Banks a minor league contract. The 33-year-old has not decided whether to accept the contract or explore opportunities elsewhere.

Record attendance: Saturday's Grapefruit League finale attracted 7,183 fans for the Marlins fifth sellout at Roger Dean Stadium.

Attendance was up 56 percent over last year, with 84,464 attending Marlins games. Last year's total was 54,248.

Combined with the Cardinals, who share the stadium, attendance at Roger Dean Stadium was 179,319, a record for the seven years of the complex.

The Marlins and Cardinals each had five sellouts.

Opening Day activities: A full slate of Opening Day events are scheduled for Tuesday that fans are being asked to be in their seats by 12:30 p.m. ET for the 1:05 p.m. start.

The World Series championship banner will be brought into the stadium by the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

The Golden Knights are the top jump team in the world.

After the banner arrives, the on-field ceremonies will begin.

Radio play-by-play announcer Dave Van Horne will emcee the festivities, presenting awards for the sensational 2003 season. Awards will be handed to: Jack McKeon (Manager of the Year), Dontrelle Willis (Rookie of the Year), Josh Beckett (World Series MVP), Juan Pierre (Cool Papa Bell), Luis Castillo (Rawlings Gold Glove), Mike Lowell (Silver Slugger), Negro League Executive of the Year, and Organization of the Year.

The ceremony also will include the unveiling of a logo on the outfield wall recognizing the 2003 championship.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold already, and with walkup, the crowd should exceed 60,000.

Pierre progressing: Each day, the finger gets a little stronger.

Pierre is recovering from a dislocated right pinkie suffered on March 21 while stealing a base against the Mets.

Before the injury, Pierre was hitting .488 (20-for-41). The setback kept him out of the lineup for five days before he was back in action.

"It's getting better every day," he says.

Since the injury, he went 4-for-26 (.153), after going 2-for-2 Saturday. He hit .358 in Grapefruit League play.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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