Rod Barajas has been there, done that.
The 35-year-old Dodgers catcher first broke into the major leagues back in 1999 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit a home run for the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, and he is now in his 13th major league season with his sixth major league team.
So there isn't a lot that can make a grizzled veteran like Barajas feel like an 18-year-old kid getting that phone call from a major league club telling him he'd been drafted.
But that's how Barajas felt when he was told the Dodgers had claimed him off waivers from the New York Mets last August.
"It was exciting, it definitely was what I dreamt about as a kid," Barajas said.
"I was a huge Dodger fan. To me, the Dodgers were THE franchise to play for."
Barajas was born in Ontario, graduated from Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs and attended Cerritos Junior College. He wasn't drafted, but instead caught the eye of the Diamondbacks in an open tryout and was signed in 1996.
Three years later, he was in the majors.
Last year he finally wound up home, picked up by the Dodgers to fill in for the injured Russell Martin, who many figured would be healthy and back behind the plate for the Dodgers in 2011.
But while Martin remained popular in the clubhouse and with the fans, the hip injury he suffered last August was called
"traumatic" by the Dodgers. And Martin's offensive production had dipped significantly since 2008.
Martin was eligible for arbitration, but when the Dodgers decided not to tender him a contract, he became a free agent.
"We had wanted to sign Rod all offseason," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.
"But his agent told us he wanted to see what we were going to do with Russell Martin."
"We negotiated with Russell but we couldn't come to a resolution to keep him here. So we called Rod and told him Russell is not coming back, we want to sign you."
Martin signed a one-year deal with the Yankees for $4million; Barajas signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers for $3.25 million.
"He's a good guy for this club," Colletti said.
"He takes his role as a leader seriously. And for me the most important components of a catcher are things you can't always see unless you really look into it, like calling a game, setting up hitters, helping pitchers through rough times. And he takes a lot of pride in being a Dodger."
The feeling is mutual. Barajas remembering his youth as a Dodgers fan and looking up to Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager who served as Dodgers catcher in the 1980s.
"He was definitely one of my favorite Dodgers," Barajas said.
"He wasn't your athletic-looking catcher, he was bigger, a guy similar to myself."
"I always read the paper and read his quotes and I loved how he talked about what he did behind the plate and working with the pitchers. He's the type of player I looked up to."
Barajas said one of the best compliments he ever received came in spring training of 2004, his first year with the Texas Rangers.
Barajas said Scioscia told him he was a big reason for the Diamondbacks' success in 2001 and 2002, winning the World Series in '01 and winning the National League West in '02.
"He told me he loved what I did behind the plate," Barajas said.
"It really meant a lot to me."
Barajas goes into today's game against the Rockies hitting .250, but offense is not why he's a Dodger. It's about the pitchers.
"When I see a project, or a guy struggling and I work with him, when he has success, I take more out of that than anything I do offensively," he said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly saw all he needed to see in the final months of last season when Mattingly was the hitting coach.
"What told me all about Rod was that he never asked me about at-bats during a game," Mattingly said.
"To him it was always about the pitching."
"That guy back there (behind the plate) when you see teams that win, the catcher has a leadership role on that club. That's how I see Rod fitting in."
While Barajas will gladly take a leadership role in the Dodgers clubhouse, he shares that role at home with wife Stacie. The couple has six children, including four boys, the oldest being 15.
"She does a lot more than I could possibly do," Barajas said.
"We have great kids, but my job is easy compared to hers."