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Barajas grateful for his wife on Mother's Day

Barajas grateful for his wife on Mother's Day

Barajas grateful for his wife on Mother's Day
PITTSBURGH -- Rod Barajas has dealt with some tribulations early in his first season with the Pirates. The bat has been slow, the legs of a 36-year-old who has squatted 16 years behind the plate have been even slower, and the arm has been missing a few calibers.

But, on those regular late-night phone calls to his Southern California home, does he moan about tough days to his wife, Stacie? Not a chance. Stacie Barajas knows tough.

"It's tough for me to talk to her and hear her saying she had a rough day," Barajas said. "And me not being in a position to help. Distance definitely is something that keeps you from helping a person special to you."

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This is a remarkable and joy-filled sort of "rough," the sort that shines a bright beam on Stacie Barajas as someone worthy of Major League Baseball's richest bouquet on Mother's Day.

Go back many years, not long after Rod and Stacie had found each other, as they sat in his car, taking various aims at a future that seemed unlimited.

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"We were just talking. Not in a deep conversation or something like that," Barajas said. "And she just brought it up. She asked me, 'How many kids do you think we'll have?' And, joking around, not being serious, trying to be funny, I said, 'Seven.' She said, 'You're crazy.'"

Life unfolded. Andrew was born, then Bryce and Aunalilia. Then Rod Jr. and Jace. And Aubrielle.

"Once we got to number six," Barajas said, "Stacie reminded me of that conversation long ago. And I'm like, 'All right, then here we go.'"

And here Starlette came, on March 13, the seventh child of a baseball-first family.

While Rod is away, Stacie is home taking care of seven kids aged 16 down to two months. In a game that regularly bestows hero status on the field, she is a peerless heroine at home. Or behind the wheel.

"She's Super Mom," Barajas said. "She dedicates all her time, everything to the kids. It's hard for her to take the kids to Little League games, drop kids off at school -- the kids are going to three different schools. She's driving them around, trying to figure out ways to manage her time. After all this time, it's still hard for her.

"Regardless of what's needed, she makes sure she's available for them, all seven of them."

With such a brood, alone time is difficult, together time nearly impossible. The Barajases try, occasionally meeting up on the road.

"We definitely try to figure out some times when we can be alone. It's hard spending all your time taking care of other people," Barajas said. "It doesn't happen very often, but we try to get day trips where we can get away, and do our own thing, and not think about anything else but each other."

But motherhood doesn't come with an off switch.

"Even when we do that stuff," Barajas said, "she's constantly thinking about the kids, worrying about the kids, calling the kids. Her mind is always on taking care of her family."

Before the kids, Rod and Stacie shared each other's love and dreams.

"We first [got together] once I started playing pro ball," said Barajas, an undrafted player out of Cerritos Junior College, signed in 1996 by Arizona following a tryout. "After we met, it didn't take us long to realize that this was the right fit. Within a year, we were married. I don't know about her, but it was definitely an easy decision for me, that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."

It is a splintered lifestyle, from which Barajas got a two-year reprieve as he spent 2010-11 with the Dodgers.

"The last couple of years were nice," he said. "I definitely got to see them more often. It was just two hours down the road [to the family's Del Mar home], and on the weekend they were able to come over more often. This year, we've been apart since Spring Training, and it's real tough.

"I've already missed a lot with [Starlette]. It's been tough on me, and tough on Stacie."

On Mother's Day, Rod will be in Pittsburgh, engaged alongside other Pirates with the Houston Astros. Wherever else Stacie will be, she'll be in Rod's thoughts.

"I try to make that day as special as possible," he said. "Shower her with gifts, try to arrange some alone time for her. As baseball players, when you live on the other side of the country, it's hard to connect. When these occasions come, I try to figure out a way to make it about her, to let her enjoy herself.

"She makes it easy for me to be away. She puts everyone in front of herself. Her main objective in life right now is taking care of those kids."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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