SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A contributing member of the Colorado Rockies during their best seasons a decade ago, Chris Iannetta rejoined them with a reprise in mind.
Iannetta was a second-year reserve when the Rockies made their only World Series appearance in 2007 and was the starting catcher for a Colorado team that won a franchise-record 92 games in 2009.
When the Rockies sought a veteran to help guide their young pitching staff this season, Iannetta was more than ready to return to the team that dealt him to the Los Angeles Angels after the 2011 season.
“Some of the most fun I’ve had in baseball were over those years, and some of the worst times I’ve had in baseball were over those years,” Iannetta said. “Any time a team trades you away or you decide to leave, you don’t really think about that being an option again. But very early in the offseason they reached out, and I was excited to potentially come back. I thought it would be a cool scenario.”
Now 33, Iannetta agreed to an $8.5 million, two-year contract. He had his best offensive seasons with the Rockies in 2008-09, with 34 homers and 99 RBIs in 622 plate appearances.
He hit .254 with 17 homers and 43 RBIs in 316 plate appearances for Arizona last year as part of a platoon with Jeff Mathis. Iannetta had a career-high .511 slugging percentage, and his .865 OPS was the second-highest of his career and the highest among National League catchers with at least 310 plate appearances.
Colorado opened last season with young catchers and later supplemented them with Ryan Hanigan and Jonathan Lucroy. The veteran presence helped.
“I think everybody realized what that meant to our pitching staff, and that a stable veteran presence with experience would be a great thing for our staff,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.
Iannetta’s pitch framing skills, ranked second in the majors by statcorner.com in 2015, graded as neutral last season — which is an upgrade for the Rockies group.
Iannetta said his offensive last year benefited from hitting coach Dave Magadan and assistant hitting coach) Tim Laker.
“Tim made some suggestions in my swing that really helped out,” he said “And it was an environment where the team was a great group of guys. Everyone was pulling for each other.”
Just like the good old days of Rock-tober.
Colorado won 11 straight games and 13 of its final 14 in 2007 to force a tiebreaker playoff for the NL wild card, beat San Diego in 13 innings, then swept Philadelphia in the Division Series and Arizona in the World Series. The Rockies then got swept by Boston.
Iannetta’s three-run homer in a 13-0 victory over Florida on Sept.16 began that streak.
“It was a crazy run. A crazy situation,” Iannetta said. “I use that as an example with a lot of teams I’ve played on as to what could be possible, what happens when you guys get together and pull in the same direction.”
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