3/26/2013 10:00 A.M. ET
Even before trade, Prado respected by D-backs
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There was no questioning the level of respect for Martin Prado in the Braves' clubhouse during his time in Atlanta.
From Chipper Jones reportedly saying Prado was the best teammate he'd had to Hall of Famer Hank Aaron talking to a friend of Don Baylor's and raving about Prado, the 29-year-old veteran is almost universally appreciated.
With the Braves, Prado was a jack of all trades, playing every infield position as well as left and right field during his seven seasons there. Wherever the Braves had a hole, he filled it.
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"The main reason they respected me is I was there for them," Prado said. "I was there for my teammates, even when I was doing bad. I feel that makes that little bit of a difference. I'll be honest with you -- Chipper Jones is a Hall of Famer, and I'm not that kind of player. I'm not a superstar. But if you ask me to go out there and play second or you want me to play third the next day and right field the next, I'm not going to complain. They told me I was going to play first base, and the first thing I did was go over there and take a lot of ground balls."
Prado's time with the Braves came to an end in late January, when he was dealt to the D-backs in a deal that involved Justin Upton going to Atlanta.
Despite being an established veteran, Prado talked openly early in camp about his nerves as he tries to fit in with his new teammates.
"The main thing for me right now is I feel like I'm starting all over again," Prado said. "I have to build that confidence and that respect from all my teammates and coaches again. That's hard. They can hear about me, but if they don't see it from me every day, they will doubt it, and I don't want people doubting."
Rest assured -- no one in the Arizona clubhouse has any questions about Prado.
Closer J.J. Putz shook his head when asked if Prado had to earn his respect.
"He had mine on the other side," Putz said. "When I was playing against him, he had my respect. Now that he's here, he's a guy that you'd like to build around. That's why we got him. That's why we extended him."
In fact, the D-backs felt so strongly about Prado that they signed him to a four-year, $40 million extension before he had even put on a Sedona Red uniform.
While Prado bounced around the field defensively in Atlanta, the D-backs see him as their everyday third baseman and expect him to spend most games as the No. 2 hitter in their lineup.
Prado is a perfectionist, constantly looking to get better, and he can wind up being pretty tough on himself -- so much so that manager Kirk Gibson pulled him aside for a talk during batting practice on Sunday.
"Don't put any pressure on yourself because you're new to this team," Gibson said. "Everybody gets it. Beyond what you do on the field, you're unbelievable off the field."
So far this spring, Prado likes what he's seen from his new teammates.
"There's so much talent here," Prado said. "I don't really know everybody. I mean, I say hi to everybody, but it's going to take a while to really know them. The easy way to get to know somebody is talking about baseball. If they're a pitcher, I'll ask, 'Hey, what do you like to do in this count or that count?' Then they realize I want to understand situations. That's a way for me to get to know someone."
Prado hopes that getting to know his teammates will lead to wins on the field. If he knows what makes them tick, he figures, he can know what to say to someone if they're struggling.
What Prado wants his teammates to know about him is that only one thing matters to him, and it's not his statistics.
"The main thing for me is my team and how we win together," Prado said. "because at the end of the day, if you've got four homers and you've got eight RBIs but we lost the game, so what? I mean, you're good that day, but everybody is going to be down and you're smiling? Everybody can see that. They can see you're happy."
In other words, Prado will not celebrate a personal accomplishment unless it leads to a victory.
So tell him you think he's a good guy -- tell him you think he plays hard. He'll like that. There is one compliment he'll value even more than that, though.
"I like to think about baseball 24 hours [a day]," Prado said. "I know for sure after baseball, there's a life that I have to live, but I'm making sure that when I walk out of the game, I look back and say I did everything I could to get better and to win. It's good when they say that when you play, your team wins. That's the best compliment you can get in baseball. That means you put in that good energy and create that positive momentum for the team. So I'm trying to be that guy."
The D-backs are counting on it.