Nomar Mazara “grinded” his way back to majors and isn’t going back

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The game of baseball is about peaks and valleys. These ups and downs take place in virtually every single confrontation between a batter and a pitcher. They also take place weekly and monthly for the player as they constantly battle consistency within the game.

There are players who are labeled after a stint in the majors. Once a player participates in enough games, the baseball experts believe they know a true value of the player. These men battle the stigma attached to them, and the majority toil in between the minors and major leagues for years on end. That is a harsh existence and something you would not wish on any young player starting out in life.

Nomar Mazara enjoyed an excellent year as a rookie at the age of 21. In 2016, for the Rangers, the left-handed batter slugged 20 homers and played in 145 games. The next season, Mazara drove in 101 runs, equaling his home run total from his rookie season. His next two seasons were equally productive with power as he slammed 19 and 20 homers for the Rangers. He looked to be a burgeoning star in the game.

The power was evident from Mazara, but at the age of 25, he was granted free agency by Texas as they deemed his contract value too expensive. Mazara garnered little interest in the open market and ultimately signed in Detroit for the 2021 season at a fraction ($1.75 million) of what he made in Texas his last year ($5.56 million). Instead of establishing his value, the Dominican outfielder struggled with the Tigers, only playing in 50 games, hitting .212 for Detroit.

Mazara then was 26 and a free agent once again. He looked to be nothing but a name out of the past. When a player has a down year at his age with no stability in their contract, the mental side of the game starts to eat at them. Do they belong? Will they ever achieve their goal again? Will they ever even be given a chance? Baseball at the professional level is about opportunity and timing. Luck is also a major factor.

Mazara told 97.3 the Farn on Friday that he worked with a new hitting coach this past winter. He mentioned how he took it upon himself to “find consistency” with his plate appearances. Mazara said that if he did not make the change, his career would have continued to spiral downward. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to admit you need to make changes in your swing.

In the winter of 2021-22, the Padres signed Nomar Mazara to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. There was a need for corner outfielders in San Diego as the Padres elected not to bring Tommy Pham back. Jurickson Profar was listed as the starting left fielder but was inexperienced at that role. Mazara seemed to have a great opportunity as the Padres also coveted a left-handed bat in their lineup.

Mazara hit just .172 in 29 at-bats this past spring. The self-doubt of starting the season in El Paso was upon him, but Mazara responded with powerful numbers in the PCL upon arrival. He got off to a scorching start in El Paso, and a call-up seemed inevitable for the first weeks of the season. But it never happened.

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The outfielder did not pout. He continued to smash Triple-A pitching, recording a 1.095 OPS in 35 games and 128 at-bats. He spent nearly two months in the minors before the Padres promoted him.

On Thursday, Mazara spent time with Bob Scanlan after the game. He spoke about the team and how the team’s goals are to play for each other. Mazara also spoke about himself individually. “I am just sticking to my plan. I just go out there and try to barrel up some balls. The situation dictates if you are going to swing hard or not. When you put the ball in play, good things happen,” Mazara said. This is a cliché response, but his approach and effort in the box show that is exactly what he is doing.

With a little luck, Nomar Mazara will establish himself this year in a Padres uniform. If he can find consistency with his approach and gain some momentum in his average and on-base-percentage, Mazara will be a handy player for the Padres. The power from the left side is real, but there is the feeling among the Padres that the 27-year-old is capable of much more.

“I have been feeling pretty good at the plate. It finally happened, and I am grateful for it,” Mazara said about his home run on Thursday. “First one and hopefully many more to come.”

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