Of the many changes the Arizona Diamondbacks made in the off-season, none brought more attention than Justin Upton being shipped to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for four players, including former fan favorite in Atlanta, Martin Prado.
Prado arrived to the valley and began working out at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick before officially needing to report with the other position players on Thursday. He is quickly getting acclimated with his new teammates and coaches.
“They made me feel comfortable and from the first day I got here they made me feel comfortable,” said Prado. “They made me feel like family so that was one of the things I was expecting because everyone was saying that.”
“I am really happy to be here,” added Prado. “I cant wait for spring training to start, get to know everybody and build that chemistry.”
While at the baseball winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers mentioned at the time that they were “comfortable” with where they were with Chris Johnson and the third base position which was one of the positions the organization said it wanted to improve upon after the end of last season. In adding Prado, they changed the tone from comfortable to ecstatic and have their guy in that spot for the present and future.
“We did our homework on this guy,” said Gibson. “He’s got a lot of ability, he’s very determined, his makeup is exceptional, he will be great in the clubhouse, he will be comfortable here in a short period of time.”
As mentioned, many people in Atlanta, whether teammates or fans, loved Martin Prado. He was a rock in their lineup since first being made an everyday starter back in 2008. Since first being called up in 2006 through last season, he hit a combined .295 batting average, .345 on-base percentage which included 168 doubles, 52 home runs and 286 RBI’s. He has never struck out more than 100 times in a season where as Justin Upton had more than 100 strikeouts in every season with team since being made an everyday starter.
“It was a little bit difficult and I think it’s part of the process when you get traded and you go to a new place and new people,” said Prado. “But for me more than that I am a professional baseball player. I think I have to do the same thing I was doing over there (Atlanta) and prove myself for the team. Just trying to win baseball games.”
“You kind of look at some of the guys who are going to be playing, you know Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt), Aaron Hill, Prado in the infield, I mean those guys all want to play 160 games,” explained Gibson. “I hope they are healthy enough to play 155. But he (Prado) has certainly done it in the past and we got to keep him healthy. Anything can happen in this game.”
One big question mark after the Diamondbacks acquired Prado was whether or not they would be able to lock him up long-term as he came to the team entering the year in the final year of his contract. The Diamondbacks were able to answer that question very quickly as just days after the trade was made, the team announced they agreed to a four year deal with their new third baseman.
With the new team, teammates and new contract, is Prado feeling the pressure to produce?
“Actually yea, I feel some pressure but I am not going to change anything,” stated Prado. “I am not going to change my approach just because I got the deal. I just feel the only thing I can control is prepare before the game, do my routine, do the little things in baseball.”
“I think the numbers are going to come along,” Prado added. “For me the goal is to fit well with this team and do the best I can to help the team win games.”
Matin Prado and the rest of the Diamondback position begin their official team workouts on Friday.