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Noonan hopes to stick with hometown team

Padres infielder grew up as fan of team in San Diego
MLB.com @FollowThePadres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As a Minor League free agent, infielder Nick Noonan looked at a handful of teams this winter that might be the best fit for him.

When the Padres called, Noonan stopped looking.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As a Minor League free agent, infielder Nick Noonan looked at a handful of teams this winter that might be the best fit for him.

When the Padres called, Noonan stopped looking.

Noonan, a San Diego native, didn't hesitate when his hometown team, the one that he grew up rooting for, offered him a deal with an invitation to big league camp this spring.

• Padres Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule | Information

"For me, there's just something special about playing for the Padres. I've been going to Padres games since I was a little kid," Noonan said.

"Being that little kid in the stands saying, 'I want to play for the Padres someday' and then having the opportunity to do it … it feels good inside."

Noonan, 26, was a first-round Draft pick of the Giants in 2007 out of Francis Parker High in San Diego. That's when his allegiances had to change.

But, to be clear, he's always been a Padres fan.

"We had season tickets when I was younger. We went to Jack Murphy [Stadium] and then when it was Qualcomm [Stadium], then the first season at Petco Park [2004]," he said.

Noonan and his father attended World Series games in San Diego the last time the team advanced to the Fall Classic, against the Yankees in 1998.

"I remember that like it was yesterday," said Noonan, who counts Steve Finley, Tony Gwynn and Ken Caminiti as the players he followed the most. "I think I've been to a lot of big Padres moments."

Noonan and outfielder Alex Dickerson, also from San Diego, went to that World Series as fans. Both are from Poway, which is located about 30 minutes north of Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

It's been a big offseason for Noonan, and he and his wife, Amanda, welcomed their first son, James, on Feb. 9. That was the day after before Noonan's deal with the team became official.

"When I called him the day we signed him, he was expecting his son to be born the next day," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He was, like, 'I became a Padre today, and I'll become a Padre tomorrow.'"

Now, following nine professional seasons, Noonan would like to create some new memories with the Padres.

Noonan, who can play shortstop, second base and third base, spent his first eight seasons with the Giants and made his big league debut in 2013. He signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees before 2014, was released last season and then caught on with the Giants again.

In 127 big league at-bats with the Giants, Noonan has a .197/.244/.244 line.

"I'm not really old, but I have a lot of experience in professional baseball. I signed when I was [18], I've played nine seasons and I'm only 26. I think it's valuable in a player to have that kind of experience," Noonan said.

"I think, right now, I'm one of those guys who will always be fighting for that big league roster spot, looking to make the team and prove I can stick there."

Noonan's experience and versatility certainly weigh in his favor, although there is a lot of competition for bench jobs.

"There's a lot of stuff there you can like," Green said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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