Home again, Pacheco begins new journey - Albuquerque Journal

Home again, Pacheco begins new journey

Former La Cueva and UNM standout and major leaguer Jordan Pacheco swings the bat at a place he has gotten a few hits in the past. Pacheco was announced as hitting coach for the Triple-A Isotopes in 2022 on Friday at Isotopes Park. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Jordan Pacheco can offer as much perspective on Isotopes Park as anyone.

Reflecting on his personal history at the ballpark was enough to make Pacheco’s head spin Friday when he was introduced as the Albuquerque Isotopes’ new hitting coach.

Standing near the third-base line, Pacheco addressed the media while his wife, Jessica, monitored their two children, 4-year-old Joie and 2-year-old Madsen, playing in the outfield. It was a scene the 35-year-old Pacheco never imagined when he was winning high school championships at Isotopes Park nearly two decades ago.

“I was thinking this morning about how surreal this is,” Pacheco said. “You never know where life is going to go, especially in this game of baseball, but this is a very surreal moment.”

In a way, Pacheco’s new role with the Isotopes has a familiar feel. He’s effectively starting over with the same Colorado Rockies organization that drafted him out of the University of New Mexico in 2007.

Pacheco ended his playing career last season after 39 games with the independent Lexington Legends. He hit .370 in the final act of his 14-year pro playing career.

But the man who played in 377 major league games – still the most by any UNM alum – with the Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds also got his first taste of coaching last season, working with the Grand Junction Rockies in the Pioneer League. It turned out to be the fresh start Pacheco was craving.

“The Rockies told me after the season they’d have something for me,” Pacheco said. “I never thought it would be this. Being able to come back here with my family is such a blessing. The Rockies took a chance on me in 2007 and now they’re taking a chance on me again.”

Pacheco is still learning the ropes as a coach but he has long since proven himself as a hitter. He posted a career .272 average in MLB while playing various positions including catcher, infield and outfield.

He also has a connection with Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer, a former minor league teammate and longtime friend.

“We were drafted in ’07 with the Rockies together, came up in the minor leagues together,” Schaeffer told the Journal in a June interview about his close relationship with Pacheco.

“He’s a great guy.”

Jordan Pacheco shares a few words with Albuquerque Isotopes general manager John Traub before Pacheco put on an Isotopes jersey on Friday. Pacheco was named the 2022 Isotopes’ hitting coach during a press conference at Isotopes Park. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Isotopes general manager John Traub said he was delighted Thursday when the Rockies organization informed him Pacheco would serve as the team’s hitting coach.

“We’ve had a few players from Albuquerque come back here over the years,” Traub said, “but to have Jordan come back as a coach, this is really an exciting day for the Isotopes. I’m thrilled the Rockies assigned him to us.”

Pacheco smiled when asked about working with up-and-coming professional players. He said he’d begun to enjoy answering questions as “one of the older guys in the clubhouse,” in recent years. He’s confident he’ll be able to impart some local wisdom about living and playing Albuquerque.

“I think my knowledge of what comes with this ballpark and with this elevation with help me,” he said. “I can definitely tell guys about what’s going on in the city, too, tell them about some good places to eat.”

As for Isotopes Park, Pacheco’s résumé there is extensive.

He won state championships there playing for La Cueva High School in 2003 and ’04, posted gaudy numbers for the UNM baseball team from 2005-07 and won Mountain West Player of the Year honors in his final season – when the Lobos still played home games at Isotopes Park.

Pacheco played professionally at the ballpark, too. He joined the Colorado Rockies for a 2010 exhibition game in Albuquerque and made several hometown appearances with Triple A clubs, the most recent with Tacoma in 2019.

Until Friday, Pacheco had never officially worn an Isotopes jersey but he’s looking forward making a habit of it. Pacheco and his family recently purchased a home in Albuquerque.

“I’ve always loved this ballpark and Albuquerque is home,” Pacheco said. “To be able to come back here as a coach is amazing.”

Geoff Grammer contributed to this report.

 

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