Who says you can’t go home again?
“Feels great,” catcher Rod Barajas said of rejoining the team he spent his first five seasons in the big leagues with, including 2001. “(We) did something pretty special winning that World Series. (The Diamondbacks) have always held a special place in my heart. To be able to come back and be a part of it again, I’m real excited.”
Of course, much has changed in the time Barajas has been gone.
The Diamondbacks no longer train in Tucson, no longer play in a stadium named Bank One Ballpark and no longer wear purple and teal, the team’s original uniform colors.
“I wore the throwback uniform. Tells you how old I am,” Barajas said with a smile. “They’re called throwback uniforms now. Those are the ones that I wore. It’s a little weird, but I love the (Sedona red and Sonoran sand trim) colors.”
Aside from the cosmetic changes, Barajas looks around and still sees a number of familiar faces, whether it’s former teammates Luis Gonzalez (special assistant to the President & CEO) and Matt Williams (third base coach) or bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock, who has been with the organization since the beginning.
“It’s great to be around them again,” Barajas said. “We had some good times.”
The 37-year-old signed a minor league contract and is competing this spring with Wil Nieves to be the backup to starter Miguel Montero.
“Whatever is asked,” Barajas said of his role. “I love playing this game. I feel like I have a lot of information that I can pass on to a lot of people, not just the catchers but the pitchers and the position players. I’ve been doing this quite awhile. Even if I’m not playing a lot, then I feel like I’ve got a lot of, I guess, coaching. I can work with other guys and help them prepare, help them understand the game. That’s all stuff that I enjoy doing. Hopefully, I’m able to impact some of these guys and help them grow and figure out a way to help this team win.”
After spending last season in Pittsburgh where he hit .206 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 321 at-bats, Barajas said he had other options but Arizona was “one of my top choices. I’m real happy that it worked out.
“This is just a special place for me,” he continued. “It’s going to be a blast.”