ARLINGTON, Texas -- The most celebrated return of a hitting coach happened Friday, when the Cubs' Rudy Jaramillo arrived at the ballpark.
Jaramillo left the Rangers last year after rejecting a one-year contract.
"I miss it here, there’s no doubt about it," said Jaramillo, who was the Rangers' hitting coach from 1995 until last year. "I was here for so long, I had great relationships with a lot of those young kids that are going to play tonight. You know I’m pulling for the Rangers. I'm in the National League, [but] my favorite team is the Rangers. I check the box scores, I check the scores during the game and they mean a lot to me. I'm going to have players on both sides that I care a lot about."
One would think Jaramillo is bitter about how things ended here. He helped Alex Rodriguez, Michael Young, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez, among others, reach their potential. Jaramillo said the decision to reject the one-year deal was hard one but a business decision.
"Yeah, it was," he said. "Anytime you’ve been in a place this long and it's your home, and it was, but it’s a decision I made and sometimes you need changes for everybody. [The Rangers] are doing great, they’re in first place and I tip my hat to them and I hope they keep going. I do miss these kids and I was close to them. I had a lot of them for so many years, the rapport and the trust you build with them, and we’ll still continue to be friends and we’ll see them in the winter."
Cubs manager Lou Pinella said he's fine with the job Jaramillo is doing. The Cubs are fourth in hitting (.267), third in hits (381) and tied for fifth in on-base percentage (.338) in the NL.
"He's done a nice job here, a professional," Pinella said. "Always available. The players enjoy working with him."
Jaramillo's day started as it used to. He visited his mother's house in Oak Cliff for a meal then headed to the ballpark. When he came out of the visitors 'dugout, several fans chanted his name. He said it was the first time he walked out of the visitors' tunnel to get to the field.
"Strange to come back," Jaramillo said. "It's really strange, but its great being here. I've been here for so long and I think I really realized it when we took off from [spring training in] Arizona. I was always used to coming home [Dallas], and I was going to Atlanta and it felt a little strange, but I'm getting used to it. I love Chicago. I love the fans there. I love working for Lou Pinella, he's great."