The trip from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, is not complicated. But in 2015, it became a journey with twists and turns for Jeremy Barfield.

Barfield was about to leave the Colorado Rockies’ training camp in early April to drive to his Triple-A assignment in Albuquerque.

“I had my car packed. I had my locker picked out, my jersey number picked out,” Barfield said. “I had my living situation ready to go.”

Then Rockies farm director Zach Wilson met with Barfield and by the look on Wilson’s face, bad news was coming.

“We just don’t have no room for you,” Wilson told Barfield. The Rockies released him.

Barfield stared. “I had never been released,” he recalled. “Man, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Now here’s a spoiler alert. Barfield eventually reached Albuquerque. But it was not in April, and not by car.

First, came a stop in New Jersey.

Then Mexico, then Texas, then Connecticut.

And finally, a flight to Albuquerque on July 17.

Despite playing for five teams that year, Barfield is relatively calm. He is playing for only his second team of 2017, the Portland Sea Dogs. He joined Portland on May 25 after the Red Sox signed him out of the independent leagues.

Barfield, 29, is 6-foot-5, 245 pounds and swings a powerful bat. In 52 games for Portland, he’s batting .284 with 11 home runs.

If you never heard of Jeremy, maybe you recognize the Barfield name. His father, Jesse, was an All-Star outfielder, playing 14 seasons with the Blue Jays and Yankees.

Jeremy and his older brother, Josh – a big-league infielder for four years and now a member of the Diamondbacks’ front office – grew up in a major league setting.

Now Jeremy Barfield is trying to get to the majors on his own, the odds growing longer as he gets older.

“I was really considering hanging it up,” Barfield said about being unable to hook up with an organization this spring. “My wife actually convinced me to (continue). She asked, ‘You still enjoy it?’ I said ‘Yeah.’ ‘Then go play,’ she told me.”

Barfield was an eighth-round draft pick by the A’s in 2008 as a 19-year-old. He grinded through the system and reached Triple-A in 2013.

But in Triple-A Sacramento, Barfield was the fourth outfielder. He had played only 35 games (batting .188 with four home runs) when the A’s talked to him.

“It was my birthday (July 12),” Barfield said. “They told me they were converting me to a pitcher. I started laughing because I thought they were kidding. They were serious.

“I asked for my release and they said no. So I had to do it.”

Barfield trained as a pitcher the rest of the year and pitched again in 2014, first in the hitter-friendly Class A California League (4.63 ERA), and then a couple scoreless outings in Double-A.

But Barfield hated it. Yes, he had a strong arm – inherited from his father. But like Jesse, who hit 40 home runs for Toronto in 1986, Jeremy was most comfortable with a bat in his hand.

“I’m a hitter. I gave (pitching) a shot. I just did not enjoy it whatsoever,” Barfield said. “It’s not what I envision doing when I go to the ballpark every day.”

Barfield would be a minor league free agent after the 2014 season, so the A’s let him go back to the outfield that July. He finished the season and signed with the Rockies for 2015, and arrived in Scottsdale rejuvenated.

“I had an unbelievable camp in the minors and I was called up for a few games,” Barfield said.

He got into three major league exhibition games and homered off Bryan Shaw of the Indians.

Then came the last day of camp, with his car packed for the trip to Albuquerque … and the news that he wasn’t going.

“The tough part is – when your best isn’t good enough, where do you go from there? It’s one thing if I struggled,” Barfield said.

“I needed to play but teams aren’t signing guys in April. They’re getting rid of guys – clearly. I called my brother. He played in the (independent) Atlantic League. He told me it’s a very good league.”

Barfield began making calls. The first three teams said no. The fourth, the Camden (New Jersey) Riversharks, had an opening. In 17 games, Barfield was hitting .350 with five home runs.

Those numbers got the attention of a Mexican Baseball League team in Cancun. With former major leaguers on the roster, along with Manager Jerry Royster and hitting coach Greg Vaughn, Barfield saw a good opportunity.

Barfield played only 11 games for Cancun. The team was on a losing streak and ownership cleaned house, firing Royster, Vaughn and some of the players, including Barfield.

Camden took Barfield back, then traded him to Sugar Land, Texas, near his parents’ home in Houston. He played 17 games for Sugar Land when the Rockies called. They had a spot.

Barfield first reported to New Britain, Connecticut, in the Eastern League. After 26 games (none against the Sea Dogs), Barfield finally made it to Triple-A Albuquerque on July 17.

“By far, my most interesting year,” Barfield said.

The Rockies didn’t re-sign Barfield and he played for Sugar Land in 2016, hitting .306 with 27 home runs.

Despite the numbers, he couldn’t land a job in affiliated baseball. He thought of retiring but his wife convinced him otherwise.

He was slugging again in Sugar Land when the Red Sox called. Now he’s back in Double-A.

“He’s been a big piece of the offense so far,” said Sea Dogs hitting coach Lee May Jr. “He’s made an impact since he’s been here – good guy in the clubhouse. Very positive.”

There are other veterans, like former major leaguer Mike Olt, 28, but most of Barfield’s teammates are in their early 20s.

“Seems every time I go back to Double-A, everyone gets younger,” Barfield joked. “Mike Olt and I were on the Texas League All-Star team in 2012 and here we are, making the most of it, having fun.

“As long as that fire is still burning, I’m not going to douse it.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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