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Iannetta a 'calming influence' for young staff

Cerebral catcher drawing from experience to lead
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Followers of Chris Iannetta's Twitter or Instagram accounts surely noticed a recent trend in his posts: sunrise photos.

The veteran catcher made it a point to properly capture the picturesque views he sees most days as he arrives at the Rockies' Spring Training complex at Salt River Fields.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Followers of Chris Iannetta's Twitter or Instagram accounts surely noticed a recent trend in his posts: sunrise photos.

The veteran catcher made it a point to properly capture the picturesque views he sees most days as he arrives at the Rockies' Spring Training complex at Salt River Fields.

"Arizona is known for its sunsets and sunrises, among a lot of other things, so it's always cool to take a step back and take notice," Iannetta said this week.

Tweet from @Chris_Iannetta: Never gets old.. pic.twitter.com/LKQFkv05up

Iannetta's documentation of the morning landscapes also sheds a little light on who he is as a person and the type of player and leader the Rockies got when they signed him to a two-year, $8.5 million contract in early December.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The 12-year veteran is a cerebral catcher who brings loads of experience -- including an initial stint with the Rockies -- to help mold a young pitching staff long on potential but short on seasoning.

"It's been different," ace Jon Gray said of his initial work with Iannetta this spring. "But in a good way. When he speaks, it's very calm and clear, and he gets his message across. He's very good at calming you down. If you make a couple bad pitches, he'll calm you down and tell you he wants you to make one pitch. He takes it that easy.

"He brings in a different perspective. I keep my ears open around him. He's seen a lot of our division for a long time. So when he puts something down, you don't second guess it. You know it's a really good pitch and probably the right one."

Manager Bud Black described Iannetta as "a great example of a new voice" in the Rockies clubhouse. But he's not completely new.

Iannetta was a fourth-round Draft pick out of the University of North Carolina by the Rockies in 2004, and he made his Major League debut with Colorado two years later. He played six seasons with the Rockies, and he was the team's primary catcher in three of the final four before he was traded to the Angels for the now-departed Tyler Chatwood in November 2011.

After four years in Anaheim and one each with the Mariners and D-backs, Iannetta and the Rockies were reunited this offseason, and Iannetta admits he is a different player than when he left.

"One hundred percent," he said. "When you're a young kid, you know the principles, but when you've executed those things and you've seen what works over and over, you get better at doing those things and more efficient at it."

Black was manager of the Padres at the tail end of the previous decade, but he still notices a slightly different Iannetta.

"He's just much more experienced and much wiser," Black said. "He's been through a couple different organizations with great pitching staffs, and he's been with a lot of great managers and pitching coaches. And from that, you gain experience.

"You hear a lot of different philosophies, a lot of different coaching techniques, and you get a lot of information. I'm sure he's processed that over the years, and he's bringing that to us. He is the player he is now because of where he's been. And that's a good thing. I think he's a calming influence on our pitchers because of who is personally."

That is, Iannetta is the type to notice a sunrise -- even if he saw a similarly beautiful one the day before -- and want to share it with the world.

"There are many things in life bigger than baseball," Iannetta said. "I pride myself on my work. I pride myself on my passion. Baseball has been a work and passion my whole life. But there are obviously other things that come first, other things that are more important. My kids are at the top of the list.

"Then you have to take time when you're working as hard as you can to realize where you're at in your surroundings and take that all in as part of the ride."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Colorado Rockies, Chris Iannetta