FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii pitcher Ian Harrington was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, but they made no offer.
Harrington masters the art of hanging on
He has improved his changeup and two-seam fastball since joining the Rainbows
Ian Harrington does not get caught up speculating about the future. He prefers to focus on taking care of today's business first.
Western Illinois at Hawaii
When: Today, 6:35 p.m.; tomorrow (doubleheader) and Sunday, 1:05 p.m.; Monday, 6:35 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Sunday game only, live, KFVE, Channel 5
Radio: All games live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Notes: The Rainbows and Leathernecks played two games in 2003 and UH won both, 9-1 and 13-2. ... In tomorrow's doubleheader, the games are nine and seven innings, with the second game starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
The junior left-hander remembers when he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 37th round after his first year at Bellevue (Wash.) Community College.
"You can get way ahead of yourself with stupid ideas. My dad (Tim) told me I was still pitching for Bellevue and not the Baltimore Orioles," said Harrington, who was a draft-and-follow choice.
"My mind-set was just to play out the season and try to win with Bellevue. I didn't need to worry about the future. I knew I could either go to Hawaii or play minor league baseball."
His decision was made by the Orioles, who decided that his velocity had not reached the level they wanted. They declined to make him an offer.
Harrington was not recruited out of high school and considered walking on at Central Washington.
"My cousin's boyfriend was playing there and he told me I would redshirt," Harrington said. "I went to a baseball camp at Bellevue that summer. They saw me and wanted me so I said I would play there."
He chose UH over Oregon State and canceled a recruiting visit to Pacific after his official visit to Hawaii in October 2004. He signed with the Rainbows that November.
"I fell in love with Hawaii and the coaching staff. The sun and beaches didn't hurt, but I definitely liked what Chad (Konishi, UH pitching coach) and (head coach Mike) Trapasso had to say," said Harrington, who is from Renton, Wash.
"When I spent time with the team I felt they were really down to earth, good guys."
The UH coaches wanted a left-handed starter. There hadn't been one on the staff since Justin Cayetano in 2003.
"I liked Ian's curve. He came from a good program and was drafted. When he came on his visit, he was an outstanding individual," Konishi said.
He has been a starting pitcher since his junior year at Kentridge High School. His coach, John Flannigan, told Harrington if he was going to play college ball it would be only as a pitcher.
"I agreed with him. I couldn't hit," said Harrington, whose fastball was in the 81-83 mph-range in high school and topped out at 88 his second year at Bellevue.
He is realistic about what he can and can't do on the mound.
"I'm not going to blow it by anybody unless they are standing in the front of the box waiting on a curve," said Harrington, who has developed his changeup more since joining the 'Bows.
"From fall to early spring, he has improved in throwing good low strikes. He struggled when he came back from Christmas break," said Konishi.
"I thought it had a lot to do with his high leg kick. We threw one bullpen and Ian went back to throwing the way he did in high school. He is more under control getting to a balance point and allowing his arm to catch up.
"It took (a) 15- to 30-pitch bullpen to figure it out and for him to feel the difference.
"It was a teaching moment for me as a coach, but more for him to understand what he was doing and see the difference. It was two weeks before the season started and that was the only thing I had to worry about with Ian."
Harrington also has improved his two-seam fastball, a pitch that breaks in and sinks on right-handed hitters and does the opposite to left-handers.
He doesn't dwell on negatives or positives. After a bad inning, like against Washington last Friday when the Huskies overcame a 5-0 deficit in the sixth inning, Harrington has a simple solution.
"I was mad for about 3 minutes, then I let it go. The worse thing I could have done was sit in a corner of the dugout and pout. That would not have helped the team at all," Harrington said. "We won and that is all that matters."
Yes, he would like to be drafted again, but that is not his thought process.
"I definitely want to get into law enforcement. My grandfather was a Seattle policeman for 32 years, the majority of it as a homicide detective and that has always sparked my interest," said Harrington.