Hard Ball

Matt Williams isn't the only dad who struggles with the baseball life

So both Armando and his wife are running on about four hours of sleep at night, if they're lucky.

He is constantly tired, but still driven to be a part of the activities of his children.

At the same time, he is driven to return to his former form in the big leagues.

Mark Poutenis

"There have been many times I've considered retiring," he says. "But I feel so good again, so ready, that I want to keep trying, try hard, to stay and keep pitching. I know I can do it now.

"When you get hurt and you're not contributing to the team, it doesn't feel good. It's not about money. I'm looking for the right place to renew my career. I just know I have something left in me to give."

He is hoping to play for a team that holds its spring training in Arizona. That would give him an extra 90 days with his family.

That likely won't happen, though.

Beyond that, he must play for a team that will give him as many opportunities as possible to see his family. And he needs a team willing to let him leave the minute his infant son faces surgery back in Phoenix.

"I know this is going to be a tough next year," he says. "The two years in New York were very tough. I missed my family so badly.

"It's hard, but when you've done this for a while, you become more realistic about injuries, trades, moves to somewhere else. It's part of the life."

He's resigned to leaving.

I'm still angry he has to leave.

But the Diamondbacks offered nothing, and, although Armando wouldn't say it, it would probably be a bad idea to stay even if the right deal came through. Anglo fans here -- 95 percent of ticketholders -- seem to be finished with him. And with the Twin Towers of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the remaining three starters must always play the role of extra and lackey.

To some degree, with the dumping of Armando Reynoso and planned dumping of Erubiel Durazo, I hope the Diamondbacks suffer the consequences of abandoning the burgeoning Mexican-American community in the Valley. Both men were sports heroes in this community. And, while recent immigrants from Mexico probably weren't filling seats because of the high cost of tickets, they did turn on their televisions specifically to watch these players.

I guarantee Mexican and other Hispanic players won't be so easy to ignore in this market in the future.

But perhaps my frustration is all just balking self-interest.

I'll definitely miss having Armando's wit and good nature present at my son's practices and games.

And, okay, yes, I will also miss his arm. Truth be told, the rest of us dads can't pitch worth a damn.

It's Sunday morning and the team is warming up for an 11 a.m. game at a tournament in far north Phoenix. It's sunny, 67 degrees and the boys have formed a pickup game in right field. It's BP and Armando is pitching.

The balls come in waist-high at 50 mph. The boys are pelting balls left and right across the forest-green winter grass.

The dads make jokes about the pro getting shelled. The pro laughs graciously at the jokes he's heard before.

And I take a few pictures. I just want to freeze a wonderful moment, a moment that, like any other in baseball, will soon be gone.

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