While the profile of a pitcher at the back of the bullpen often features someone who loves the flash associated with lighting up a radar gun, Brian Fuentes tends to be content flying under the radar.
There's an everyman quality to Fuentes, who earned three trips to the All-Star Game as a closer before being recast in July as the Rockies' eighth-inning setup man. Ask him his favorite television show, and he'll offer up that barstool staple featuring retired Red Sox reliever Sam Malone. He claims the one food he can't live without is beef Stroganoff, that the most famous person in his cell phone is Ralph Arceo --who? -- and that the celebrity he'd tap to play him in the movies is Rockies reliever Jeremy Affeldt -- say what?
But to underestimate the potential energy in Fuentes' understated personality would be a mistake second only to second-guessing his stuff.
Fuentes picked up his passion for the game watching his father's traveling police softball team, and he honed his attitude watching his hero, Dave Stewart, pitching for the A's. Fuentes was fan enough to get his picture taken with the A's '89 World Series trophy, an apparently prescient piece of foreshadowing as his Rox stand a series win from claiming the trophy as their own.
"Stewart had that bulldog mentality," Fuentes said. "He meant business when he went out there on the mound. I was always kind of envious of that. I thought, 'He's cool. I want to be like him.'"
Fuentes has Stewart's game-time intensity, but the 32-year-old veteran has slowly emerged as increasingly worthy of the "crazed" bullpen characterization. Parenthood seems to have softened this bulldog of the bullpen. He and wife Barbara have an 18-month-old son, Giovanni Paolo, and 5-week-old twins, Benicio and Gabriella.
Introducing playful pellet gun target practice in his clubhouse cubicle, Fuentes has taken the reins in unleashing pregame tensions. As for the postgame? That's "Tito" behind his champagne goggles, leading the spray assault with each successive clincher on the Rockies' road to own that World Series trophy.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.