Brooks Conrad-Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome home Brooks Conrad.
Those words have even more impact now for the newest member of the Padres after his baseball path took him to four US cities, one Japanese one and back again to his home town.
With his start at second base on Independence Day, Conrad cracked a big league line-up for the first time since July 28, 2012 when he made his final start and second to last appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays. An 0-for-3 that night moved his average to .134 over 48 games and ended up punching his ticket overseas.
When next Conrad laced up his cleats in a professional setting it was for the Hanshin Tigers. After hitting .175 over 24 games in Japan, the Monte Vista High product seemed to be a long shot to end up back in affiliated baseball, much less in the big leagues.
And yet, just fewer than 400 days after his final game in Japan, he stepped on to the field at Petco Park, completing, for the time being, yet another miracle come back for a Padre veteran this season.
There are certainly up sides to Conrad’s game. If that were not the case he would not have logged more than 280 games in the Major Leagues from 2008 to 2012, 103 of those contributing to an Atlanta Braves playoff team in 2010. Ironically, his glove more than his bat (which Manager Bud Black is looking forward to adding to the mix) may have proved his undoing and set him on the path that landed him outside the baseball establishment looking in for an entire year.
A .912 career fielder at the big league level at mostly third base and short stop, in a four game NLDS clash with the Giants in 2010, Conrad made four errors over the course of the series, including three in the third game, an eventual one run loss that may have turned the tide in the series. Conrad only started 12 more big league games for the Braves.
His .275 average with 18 home runs and 57 driven in so far at El Paso this season, combined with a career average .912 fielding percentage in 80 chances proved to be enough. Enough to push his high profile faux pas with the glove, his inconsistency as a big leaguer and his, shall we say, lack of youth out of the spotlight and shift the Brooks Conrad baseball odyssey to center stage.