Where there is one, there is the other.
Brian Barden and Rusty Ryal have been an inseparable duo this season, on and off the field, for the Albuquerque Isotopes. The veteran infielders have even earned a special nickname from their manager.
“Oh, you mean Frick and Frack?” Lorenzo Bundy said with a smile. “They obviously have that Diamondback connection. But these guys have really taken it to another level this year as far as the amount of time they spend together. They room together, you see them together on the plane, they sit next to each other on the bus to the airport and to the hotels and vice versa, they eat lunch together.
“It gives that clubhouse an opportunity to shoot at them every now and then, let them know how close they are.”
Barden, 32, and Ryal, 30, may have both played in the Diamondbacks organization in the past but they never really crossed paths there.
“We were in the same organization but not the same level at any point in time there,” Ryal said. “I just met Brian there in spring training and ever since then, we get along well and we have a lot in common. We have a lot of the same views as baseball goes. For the matter of just keeping our sanity and to keep pushing and do the best you can out there, I think we’ve meshed pretty well.”
Barden said it was easy for the two of them to develop a friendship.
“Well, it just kind of starts where we’re in our 30s, we have a few things in common, we both played for the Diamondbacks at the same time, we both played in Japan,” Barden said. “It’s just that we actually get along. We have things in common, play video games and all that. We just do normal guy stuff, I guess. It’s easy for us to bond for some reason.”
The bond may have surprised some since Barden and Ryal were seen as similar players. Both have spent much of their respective careers playing the infield corners. While they were technically competing for playing time at the same positions, both have ended up with plenty of starts.
“I applaud Lo for handling everybody’s at-bats,” Barden said. “I think we’ve all played the same amount, basically. That’s good. I’ve been on teams where bench guys really don’t get an opportunity.
“There was a little concern between Rusty and I periodically throughout the season who was going to be playing, guys were here from (L.A.), roster shuffling. But as I said we all have the same amount of numbers up there.”
Barden has hit .273 with four homers and 53 RBI while playing mainly third base. Ryal has hit .265 with four homers and 49 RBI while playing mainly first base.
“I really don’t even think we ever discussed fighting for the same job,” Ryal said. “I think it’s more of let’s try to prove everybody wrong because we’re the oldest guys on the team. Just kind of show them what we’ve got. Hopefully we can inspire some of these young guys to be better than us, maybe push them.”
At least one young player on the team has appreciated Barden and Ryal’s upbeat attitudes.
“I love ‘em,” said outfielder Chili Buss. “They’re two great guys, two quality guys in the clubhouse, for sure.
“Everyone’s super positive, that’s the great thing about this team. Even the veterans who have been in the big leagues they all have great attitudes. They’re honestly very fun guys to be around on a daily basis and that’s probably pretty rare for Triple-A.”
Barden said that sometimes as a veteran player staying positive just comes with being grateful to still have a job.
“That’s another thing, we’ve kind of accepted the situation,” Barden said. “There’s not a whole lot of opportunity out there for guys that are 30 and in Triple-A. For us to get the at-bats we have, it was a blessing. Especially after last year (in Japan), I had 90 at-bats, didn’t really play much at all. I didn’t really have anything out there in the offseason until the Dodgers called.”
Click here for part two.