Longtime relief pitcher Brad Ziegler has been an Arizona Diamondbacks favorite since he arrived in the summer of 2011. Traded to the Red Sox in 2016 and then to the Marlins a year later, Ziegler is still so beloved by D-backs fans that they chose him as one of 15 20th Anniversary Team members.
He planned to attend the celebration August 4, but he didn’t know in what capacity. On July 31, he returned to the D-backs after being traded for D-backs minor leaguer Tommy Eveld.
“I didn’t hear the D-backs even mentioned in rumblings prior to the trade deadline,” he says with a wide smile in the team’s clubhouse.
“A lot of other teams were mentioned. When I found out it was Arizona, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, you have to be kidding me.’”
D-backs fans have taken care of Ziegler, who arrives to the field to the sounds of Skillet and Daughtry. He’s flattered the fans voted him for the 20th Anniversary Team.
“It’s an honor because it was chosen by the fans,” he says. “After a guy leaves, a lot of people forget about them. It’s nice to be chosen, nice to not be forgotten. There were a lot of great teams when I was here: a playoff team and teams that pushed for the playoffs. It was really special, considering some of the other guys who were on the team.”
Standing on the field with the likes of Curt Schilling, Jose Valverde and Randy Johnson was exciting.
“I was with some of the best pitchers to play the game,” Ziegler says. “Papa Grande (Valverde) was an electric reliever himself. It’s surreal to think I have something in common with those guys. It’s a great honor, for sure.”
Ziegler says he believes he was chosen for his consistency.
“I didn’t have a lot of really flashy moments,” he says. “I didn’t have a lot of blow-out moments, either. If you look at my stats, they’re the same. There’s a lot to be said for being the same guy all the time. Even when I had a bad outing, I didn’t let it affect me. I’d go back to the mound and erase that. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday, you have to be ready to go next time. That’s the mentality I pride myself on having. I think it bodes well for me.”
That’s a relatively new frame of mind for the 38-year-old ballplayer.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t good at it at all,” he says with a laugh. “After one bad outing, I would wonder if I could still do this. Did they figure me out? I try to stay as even keeled as possible. There are a lot of ups and down in a long season. I think I’ll have more of a career out of this game than guys who go too high or too low.”
Returning to the D-backs has been joyful for Ziegler. Many of the faces haven’t changed since he last played for the team.
“I went to Boston for half a season and then Miami for a year and a half,” he says. “A lot has happened in that time. I walked in Chase Field and there were a lot of familiar faces. I was thinking, ‘Gosh, did I ever even really leave?’”
Ziegler has been dubbed a “rental” because he is a free agent at the end of the season. J.D. Martinez, now on the Boston Red Sox, was considered the same. But he’s looking forward to the future.
“The 20th Anniversary Team recalled a lot of great memories from here,” he says. “Hopefully, I can make some more.”