St. Louis Cardinals' Nolan Arenado returns to Coors Field, has 'no regrets' about eight seasons with Colorado Rockies

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado spent eight seasons at Coors Field. He never spent this much time in the visiting clubhouse, though.

Upon his highly anticipated return, the eight-time Gold Glove winner said he hopes his acrimonious split with the Rockies doesn't cloud what he accomplished in Colorado.

"I really feel like I could look at my past and have really no regrets when it comes to what I did here," he said. "I feel like I did some great things."

Arenado on Thursday night played his first game at Colorado since an offseason trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. The deal followed years of off-field drama between Arenado and former general manager Jeff Bridich, a rift that ended up costing the Rockies the face of their franchise.

Arenado was cheered by the sparse Colorado crowd when he ran sprints in the outfield before the game. The Rockies played a tribute video on the scoreboard that lasted more than a minute, and when he came to the plate in the top of the first, he received a standing ovation with a smattering of boos.

Arenado stepped out of the box, took off his helmet and tipped it toward the stands. He tapped his heart and pointed to the fans during the 45-second appreciation.

"I've seen these before in my years in the game, and that was a very good one. I thought that the crowd was very classy," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I thought Nolan did a very nice job of working his way around the ballpark."

Arenado finished 0-for-4 in the Cardinals' 5-2 loss. He popped out to first in his first two trips to the plate and grounded out in his last two.

It looked like Arenado was going to spend his career with Colorado when he signed a $260 million, eight-year contract before the 2019 season, but his relationship with Bridich soured soon after. The two didn't speak after the 2019 season, and Arenado was dealt to St. Louis before spring training this year.

Bridich resigned as the general manager in April and was replaced on an interim basis by Bill Schmidt, the organization's director of scouting. Arenado said he doesn't know whether things would have turned out differently if Bridich left before him.

"I don't know what the plan would have been regardless," Arenado said. "They could easily want to trade me still or I would have stayed. I don't know how it would it really turned out."

Arenado broke in with Colorado in 2013 and made an immediate impact. His first season was the last one for Rockies great Todd Helton, and Arenado became the club's most recognizable star after Troy Tulowitzki was traded to Toronto in 2015.

He won the Gold Glove in each of his eight seasons with Colorado and emerged as an offensive force by his third season. From 2015 to 2019, he hit 199 home runs, averaged 124 RBIs a season, and helped lead the Rockies to the postseason in 2017 and 2018.

Arenado said it was a little strange arriving in town and going to the team hotel instead of his downtown home, and entering the visiting clubhouse as well. He said he had dinner with Rockies shortstop Trevor Story on Wednesday night.

"Just talking and reminiscing about things and how the season's going on," he said. "It was just great to see him and the family. There won't be a whole lot of hugging. I'm trying to win a ballgame."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.