Putz pumped to begin next chapter with D-backs

Longtime closer offers insight into front-office job, holiday traditions and 2015 plans

Putz pumped to begin next chapter with D-backs

PHOENIX -- In a lot of ways, Christmas came early this year for J.J. Putz, who was finally able to officially join the D-backs' front office as special assistant to president/CEO Derrick Hall.

"He's like a caged animal, because he's texted me every night, 'Can I come to work tomorrow?'" Hall said in November when the move was announced. "No, not yet. We don't have the contract signed."

After racking up 189 saves over 12 seasons in the Majors, Putz retired from the game in 2014. He started his work in early November and has made community appearances for the team as well as helping out the baseball operations department, working with general manager Dave Stewart, vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson and assistant GM Bryan Minniti.

Once Spring Training gets underway, Putz is likely to spend some time in uniform working with the organization's stable of relief-pitching prospects. During the season, he will tour the Minor League system and spend time in uniform sitting in the bullpen to help teach relievers what to look for during games.

MLB.com recently talked with Putz about his new role and what the holidays are like at his home.

Q: How is the new job going so far?

A: It's great. I'm enjoying it. It's a little weird talking about guys that I've played with, but other than that, it's been great working along Stew and De Jon and Bryan. It's been fun. I'm learning a lot.

Q: What is Christmas Day like in the Putz household?

A: Christmas starts at about 6 a.m. with all the kids in our bedroom waking us up. Then we go out to the living room where the tree is, light the fireplace and start unpacking Santa Claus stuff. [My wife] Kelsey then makes our traditional chorizo-and-egg burritos for everybody.

Q: Were you a kid who got his parents up early in the morning on Christmas Day?

A: I have to say yes.

Q: What was the best gift you've ever gotten for Christmas?

A: That was a BMX Mongoose bike. I was like 6 or 7, and you know what? It is still in the shed in my dad's backyard. I just saw it when I went back in September.

Q: No way.

A: Yes, we were trying to figure out if it was worth finding a way to de-rust it and fix it up to try to get it in working condition for [my son] Ethan, but I think it's just too far gone by this point. But it's still there.

Q: What is New Year's Eve like at your house?

A: Last year we did our first New Year's in Flagstaff [Ariz.], which was incredible. We had all the kids here and we had two other families up here with us, all the kids. This year we're going to go a different route. But it's usually low-key with the kids, just kind of enjoying each other's company. It's a nice little New Year's Eve in Flagstaff.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.