Jay Payton’s beard has turned gray, the only hint of his advancing age.
Otherwise, the 37-year-old veteran outfielder is as muscular as ever, still as good of a contact hitter as always.
After tearing it up all season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Payton had his contract purchased Tuesday by the Colorado Rockies.
And just like that, Payton is a major leaguer again for the first time since 2008.
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“Seems like it’s been 10 years,” said Payton, who hasn’t suited up in the big leagues since Sept. 27, 2008, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. “I’m happy to be back – real happy to be back.”
The team also purchased the contract of catcher Paul Phillips and recalled right-hander Edgmer Escalona, along with designating reliever Taylor Buchholz for assignment.
Payton has been keeping close tabs on the Rockies in recent weeks, realizing he probably would only be promoted if the squad remained in contention.
Should the team slide, an up-and-comer would more than likely get the nod.
But the Rockies’ recent surge has them in the thick of the NL wild-card chase, and Payton has become a beneficiary of the success.
“Fortunately, it worked out,” he said. “Nice to be back.”
Payton has played 11 seasons in the majors with six different teams, but sat out last season. His best year was during his first stint with the Rockies, hitting .302 with 28 homers and 89 RBI in 2003.
This summer, he feasted on burgeoning pitchers as he hit .323 with the Sky Sox.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy summoned Payton into his office before the game, just to chat.
“There is a point and time where, as a leader, you look at a guy like this and you say, ‘thank you,’” Tracy said. “This is a veteran guy who’s been very, very successful as a major-league player. He persevered.”
Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson is going back to Florida to have his shoulder and back checked out. The All-Star right-hander stopped a bullpen session early Tuesday because of discomfort in his back. … The Washington Nationals recalled right-hander Yunesky Maya from Triple-A Syracuse, hours before his major league debut against the New York Mets. Maya, a Cuban defector who signed with the Nationals on Aug. 3, faced another pitcher making his debut in the majors, New York’s Dillon Gee. It was only the fifth game since 1980 in which both starting pitchers were making their big-league debuts. Gee allowed one run in seven innings to get the win as the Mets prevailed, 4-1. In Cuba, Maya went 48-29 with a 2.51 ERA over six seasons with the Pinar Del Rio Vegueros. He went 13-4 with seven complete games and a 2.22 ERA last season.