New D-backs OF Kole Calhoun excited to play for the home team
A kid that was trying to catch home run balls during batting practice in the early days of Arizona D-backs baseball is now catching balls as the team’s right fielder.
Kole Calhoun told 98.7 FM, Arizona Sports Station during the D-backs Fan Fest on Saturday that he has been to Chase Field many times as a fan, but never played on the field as a member of the D-backs.
A graduate of Union High School in Buckeye, Calhoun played his collegiate ball at Yavapai College in Prescott and Arizona State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels and spending the first eight years of his career with the club.
Calhoun’s hometown team signed him to a two-year contract for $16 million, including a $9 million club option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout, during the offseason.
“My goal in life was to play in the major leagues … the cherry on top of that is playing for the team that I grew up loving to watch,” Calhoun said. “Getting to do this and be at home and have all my family here at games and friends, it’s going to be a lot of fun this year.”
Calhoun entered the open market for the first time after playing in just over 950 games, accumulating 140 home runs and 451 RBIs with a .249 batting average to go along with a Gold Glove Award in 2015.
He compared going through his first free agency to the draft process where teams vetted him.
“I didn’t know what to expect, I kind of had open arms to the whole thing,” Calhoun said. “I was excited to see what was going to happen next.”
Calhoun said the D-backs were one of the first teams to give him a call, and that held a lot of merit.
“I wanted to go somewhere that wanted me, somewhere that wanted to win,” he said. “In the end, this was a great fit for the organization and for me personally.”
Calhoun is just one piece of the various improvements made by General Manager Mike Hazen during the offseason.
In addition to Calhoun, Hazen signed pitcher Madison Bumgarner, catcher Stephen Vogt, relief pitcher Hector Rondon and traded for outfielder Starling Marte — who Calhoun played with in the Dominican Republic in 2012 — from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I think we’ve put together a really, really good team and a team of guys that are going to go out and wear other teams down,” Calhoun said.