New Orleans Zephyrs outfielder Bryan Petersen took slight umbrage at being called the “elder statesman” of the team Tuesday.
He is all of 26.
But with seven opening days as a Zephyr behind him, he’s kind of earned the title — like it or not.
“Yeah, I’ve been here for a couple of years,” Petersen said.
A fourth-round pick out of UC Irvine in 2007, after he helped the team to its first College World Series appearance. He spent the next three seasons working his way up the minors, finally landing in Metairie in 2010. After hitting .307 in April that year, he got his first call-up to the Marlins on May 7. And he made his presence felt, with a pinch-hit single in his first major league at-bat. Two days later, he got his first start in right field against the Washington Nationals. After five games, he was sent back to New Orleans.
Baseball life has been up and down since then for Petersen. He spent most of 2010 with the Zephyrs, but split his time more in 2011 and 2012. His minor league batting average is .294. His major league average is .220. Last season, he hit .321 in 243 at-bats with the Zephyrs and .195 in 241 at-bats with the Marlins.
Petersen seems to take it all in stride.
“Obviously, anybody you talk to that plays wants to have, like, a 10-year (major league) career,” Petersen said. “Is it a disappointment that I haven’t had that yet? I don’t know. I think that takes away from what I have had. I don’t want to be 35 and done with the game and say, ‘Oh, it was a disappointing career.’ I mean, I got to play in the big leagues, and a lot of guys don’t get to say that.”
But Petersen and his Zephyrs teammates could get some more opportunities this season. Thanks to the almost wholesale changes in the Marlins organization last fall, including a 12-player trade with the Blue Jays, there will be some room for movement on both rosters this season, which could lead to some frequent-flyer miles between New Orleans and Miami.
“Yeah, I guess with the direction the organization is going, you can expect there to be more roster moves,” Petersen said. “It’s a good opportunity for a lot of guys — even guys that might not have been in the big leagues for a couple of years. Some people might get a shot.”
Said Zephyrs manager Ron Hassey: “No question, this is the land of opportunity. The way that roster is up in the major club, they don’t have a lot of experience up there. And I’m sure things fall apart a little bit and guys that are producing down here, I think they’ll definitely take a look at.”
As for Petersen, he says he’ll be happy here or there.
“I’m just keep playing,” he said. “I love the game so much that I don’t really care where I play. Obviously, you always want to play with the big leagues and whatnot. But it’s a good job down here. There’s a lot of guys that you have a lot of fun with and it’s a good staff. It’s a good city, good people. So, I’ll enjoy it and whatever tomorrow brings, we’ll worry about that tomorrow.”