Jordan Brown loves Tucson and certainly misses the UA.
In the offseason, Brown lives near La Encantada and trains at Hi Corbett Field.
He loved playing for head coach Andy Lopez, and he's quick to reminisce about how much fun he had as a Wildcat, in a high-octane lineup with major-leaguers such as Trevor Crowe, Jason Donald and Nick Hundley.
Brown batted .315 with 30 home runs, 152 RBIs and 109 runs in three years at the UA.
"I miss the camaraderie more than anything," said Brown, the New Orleans first baseman, before the Zephyrs' 6-2 loss to the Tucson Padres at Kino Stadium on Saturday night.
"I miss the guys; I miss Lopez. It's not that the camaraderie isn't good in baseball; we had a good group of guys at Arizona, and that staff, I couldn't ask for better."
Things haven't been quite so hunky-dory for Brown recently.
Brown has bounced between the Zephyrs and their major-league organization, the Miami Marlins, with two call-ups to MLB, and three trips to Triple-A. In 14 games in the bigs, Brown had just 15 at-bats and three hits, or a .200 batting average.
"This year has been difficult for me," Brown said. "My role has been more of a guy to come off the bench, and I've never been in that position. It's a hard job to do, it's one of those things where you don't play every day, and you have to go against the best pitching in the world in short spurts. It's a job I think I can do, though."
His last chance in the majors came in 2010 with the Indians, with whom he played in 26 games and batted .230 in 87 at-bats. Then, he was traded in 2011 to the Milwaukee Brewers, who released him one year later.
Now, in 75 games with New Orleans, he has batted .285 with two home runs and 24 RBIs.
"Jordan's done a great job," said Zephyrs manager Ron Hassey, also a former Wildcat. "He's got called up, sent down, called up again, sent down again, but now he's back with us. He's a kid that can play first base and the outfield, a left-handed bat off the bench, and gives you quality at-bats every time. He's a perfect guy for that situation (pinch-hitting)."
The Star caught up with Brown on Saturday before he went 2 for 4 in the loss.
On Arizona's move to Hi Corbett: "It's unbelievable. I'll tell you what: It's not easy to hit it out of the yard there, so I'm happy I didn't play there. The whole way Wildcat baseball was, we were a high-octane offense. Now, their offense is still great, but they win predicated on pitching."
On the sellouts at Hi Corbett: "I haven't been there because I'm in spring training when they play, but it's interesting to hear about the sellouts and all that. It always screwed guys like us, not having many fans, because we couldn't raise enough capital to host a regional which put us in a bad spot. We were No. 7 in the country and had to go to (Cal State) Fullerton, who was 4, and Missouri, who was No. 14, in our regional. That's ridiculous in a 64-team bracket. It sucked."
On playing baseball in New Orleans: "New Orleans is tough. It's a tough place to play baseball, very hot, humid. Food is different, you gotta be careful of what you eat before you eat it, I'll tell you that.
On playing for Hassey: "I get a lot of crap from him, that's for sure. I thought I had a record there; my PR guy told me I had a single-season record for RBIs. And then somehow it came up, he came up to me and said, 'Really, you think you have that record?' I thought I had it, it was 80. Well, guess who has it? Ron Hassey has 86. So it was a huge deal, but I give him crap. 'Guys didn't throw cutters or splitters. They threw 87 miles per hour tops when you played.' He gives me crap about that to this day."
Tucson 6, New Orleans 2
• Highlight: Center fielder Reymond Fuentes made his Tucson Padres, and Triple-A, debut on Saturday, and he came out to a running start - literally. Fuentes was walked in the first inning, and immediately stole his first base, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. In the third inning, he reached base on a force out and, again, stole second base. Fuentes finished the game 2 for 3 with two runs and two steals.
• Big number: 107. Days since Keyvius Sampson last pitched for Tucson, until Saturday. After four starts and a 8.03 ERA, Sampson was sent down to Double-A San Antonio. In his return to the Padres, he went six innings, allowed three hits and one earned run and struck out six. He was also credited with the win, his first of the season.
• Tonight's starters: RHP Anthony Bass, Tucson (2-5, 6.67 ERA) vs. RHP Jared Rogers, New Orleans (6-3, 4.28 ERA)
• Who: New Orleans at Tucson
• When: 7:05 p.m. • Radio: 1290-AM