Baseball is a way of life for Sidewinders’ Raines

Tim Raines Jr. has spent most of his life on or near a baseball diamond.

The 28-year-old was born during his father’s first season as a major league baseball player and spent countless hours on the field and in the clubhouse as a youngster.

“It feels like home,” Raines said. “Ever since I can remember walking, in Montreal … I’ve probably been to every stadium in the world. I feel comfortable here.”

The younger Raines is trying to add to his family’s baseball success as he attempts to work his way back to the majors.

He’s in his first season with the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. An outfielder, Raines went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Saturday in a 12-4 loss to the 51s at Cashman Field.

Raines’ father had a 23-year big league career that included seven All-Star Game appearances, two World Series championships and a National League batting title. He compiled the fourth-highest career stolen base total (808) in major league history.

Those aren’t easy footsteps in which to follow. Yet, the younger Raines has never felt pressure to measure up to his father.

“My parents both told me when I was in high school, before I decided to play baseball, that I had done enough for them,” Raines said. “I was already a success to them.”

Raines already has had his own taste of the majors, playing parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles from 2001 to 2004.

He played in 75 games with the Orioles, hitting .213 with seven RBIs and 10 steals.

The highlight of his career, though, came on Oct. 4, 2001, when father and son started in the same outfield for the Orioles. The duo joined Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only father-son combinations to play on the same team in the same big league game.

“I wish I could give you words,” Raines said. “That whole year was weird. I started in A ball. I was 21 years old. It was (Cal) Ripken’s last week. My emotions were going all over the place, and then I look over and I see my dad in the dugout.

“My dad told me I needed to get to the big leagues quick because he was getting old. He wanted to be there when I was there. It was special. I’ll never forget it.”

Raines split the last two seasons between Double A and Triple A in the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros organizations. He signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks in December.

He’s hitting .280 with four home runs and 27 RBIs for the Sidewinders but has stolen only three bases. Like his father, the younger Raines has plenty of speed, having stolen 414 bases in his professional career.

“I just try to control what I can,” Raines said. “I’ve played a few years where I’ve worried about (getting back to the big leagues), and it didn’t help.”

So his focus now is on improving each day and continuing to enjoy his home away from home — the baseball diamond.

“My dad always says, ‘Play until they rip the jersey off you,’ ” Raines said. “As long as I can still support my family and they’ll still give me a jersey, I want to keep playing.”

• NOTES — 51s infielder Andy LaRoche, who was hit in the hand by a pitch in the first inning, left the game after two innings. … Every 51s starter except LaRoche had at least one hit during the first four innings. … Las Vegas reached double figures in runs for the third straight game.

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