ARLINGTON -- Chicago Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo returned on Friday night to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where he spent the last 15 years.
"I'll tell you what, it's really strange, but it's great being here," Jaramillo said. "I've been here so long, and I think I really realized it when we took [off] from Arizona in the plane [following Spring Training], and I was always used to coming home, and I was going to Atlanta. It feels a little strange, but I'm getting used to it."
Jaramillo served as the Rangers' hitting coach from 1995-2009 but declined a contract offer with the Rangers in the offseason and instead signed with Chicago. But Jaramillo, who grew up in Dallas, still considers himself a fan of his former team.
"I tell you what, I pull for the Rangers. I'm in the National League, and my favorite team is the Rangers. I pull for 'em," Jaramillo said. "I check their box scores, I'm checking their scores during the game all the time because they mean a lot to me. I'm going to have players on both sides that I care a lot about."
Jaramillo is considered one of the top hitting instructors in the game. Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Alex Rodriguez all won MVP Awards with the Rangers under Jaramillo. He was close with many current Rangers but realized that a new atmosphere was needed.
"I was here so long, I have a great relationship with all of those young kids that are going to play tonight," Jaramillo said prior to the series opener. "These guys are doing great. They're in first place. I tip my hat to them, and I hope they keep it going. I do miss these kids because I was close to them. I've had a lot of them for so many years. ... We continue to be friends, and I'll still see a lot of them in the winter."
Despite walking down the visitor's hallway, a place he had "never even been in before," it still leads to the same field where he created so many memories.
"I think the most important thing was when Johnny Oates was here, and we won those three divisional championships that happened for the first time ... driving in, looking at this great ballpark," Jaramillo said. "The memories are the times when you won and all the hard work you put in with these young men and the results they got. ... Those are the things to remember."