SAN DIEGO -- In just his third season in the Major Leagues, Gregg Zaun was a part of a World Series championship team with the Marlins in 1997. He's been trying to get back ever since, which is part of the reason that he agreed to sign a Minor League contract with the Padres, a team the 16-year veteran catcher feels is much more a contender than pretender. "It leaves a bad taste in your mouth every year, knowing that you've got no chance, even on Opening Day," Zaun said. "That's why I want to be a part of a good team. I want to be playing meaningful games in September and October.
"I love playing the game. The thing for me to continue to play is the quest for that second championship ring." Zaun, 39, officially agreed to a Minor League deal with the Padres on Wednesday, a deal which also includes an invitation to Spring Training. Zaun will turn 40 on April 14. There are no guarantees that he will make the Opening Day 25-man roster, as he will face competition from Rob Johnson for the backup job behind Nick Hundley. Zaun, a career .252 hitter, has played for the Blue Jays, Marlins, Orioles, Royals, Astros, Rays, Rockies, Rangers and Brewers over a 16-year career that saw him break into the Major Leagues in 1995 with the Orioles. Zaun appeared in 28 games last season with the Brewers before going on the disabled list in May with a right shoulder injury. The injury turned out to be a torn labrum. Zaun had surgery in June. "Honestly ... it was kind of 50-50 whether I was going to play again or not," Zaun said. "But my arm came back a lot better than I expected it to." What does Zaun like about the Padres? "I sort of lost interest in being a part of a [rebuilding] project. ... I wanted to be with a good pitching staff and a good team," he said. "I've have the opportunity to put myself into a position with an established staff and team that's contending for a division title." If this opportunity doesn't work out, Zaun said he'll likely retire and turn his attention to broadcasting on a full-time basis. For the past five seasons, Zaun has worked on Rogers Sportsnet broadcasting team in Canada doing postseason analysis. Zaun, who currently makes his offseason home in Clearwater, Fla., played his high school baseball at Saint Francis High School in La Canada, Calif., where he was a teammates of former Major League infielder Mark Loretta, who now works in the Padres' front office.