Payton relishing chance to contribute

Payton relishing chance to contribute

DENVER -- During Spring Training, 37-year-old Rockies outfielder Jay Payton wasn't sure he was still going to be playing at this time of the year.

Payton missed all of last season with a shoulder injury and signed with the Rockies, realizing he was going to have to at least start this season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He said at the time he couldn't envision spending the whole year there.

That's pretty much what happened. But he ended up with what he wanted, a chance to help with a playoff run. In his first 13 games since he was called up when rosters expanded in early September, Payton hit .450 with three doubles and a triple. The triple occurred in Saturday night's 10-9 victory over the Giants.

"The fire has always been there," said Payton, who started Sunday's finale of the three-game series against the Giants. "I felt I was playing well enough at Triple-A to get a chance to come back, but sometimes those circumstances are out of your control. I got back here and so far things are going well for me."

Payton was with the Rockies in 2002 and 2003, and performed well enough to earn a big free-agent contract with the Padres in 2004. Payton would like to continue his career next year. He likes the Rockies and the idea of contending, but will have to see where he fits in the plans going into the season.

"To be able to come in this atmosphere where we're making the playoff push and be able to have some big at-bats, for me it's very gratifying," Payton said. "That's what it's all about for me in my career. It's all about having a chance to get back to the playoffs and play in the World Series again [he did it in 2000 for the Mets]. I'm not here for money or glory. I'm here because I love baseball and the opportunity to win a championship."