Jordan Comadena was preparing for another busy day as a volunteer baseball coach at Purdue University when the phone rang one morning. Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was on the line.
Comadena’s major league dreams appeared to be halted in the minor leagues. However, Hurdle’s call, which came on a Monday in early April, was a job offer to join the team as a bullpen catcher.
“It’s just kind of a wild ride with some luck and good fortune,” Comadena says of hearing about the position. “It was about being in the right place and knowing the right person. I am very grateful to be here. I’m just doing everything I can to help when I’m here and just stay out of the way at the same time.”
This happy ending wouldn’t have happened if not for a contact at the University of Indianapolis. Pitching coach Mark Walther heard of the job opportunity, and Comadena immediately came to mind. The word was passed, and the former Purdue Boilermaker, who was serving as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, decided to pass his information along to the Pirates.
Comadena certainly had the credentials, advancing as far as the Double-A level in the Houston Astros’ farm system. It was there that Comadena played with Dallas Keuchel, Jason Castro and Jose Altuve, all of whom are currently playing for the Astros.
“It was a great experience, and I got to be around a lot of great guys. Guys that I still keep in touch with,” he says. “I was close with them when we were there. I just tried to make the most of every opportunity presented to me. I knew, going in as a senior, I was never going to be a prospect or really valued all that much, but my goal every day was to be a pro and do my job as best I could.”
Comadena was mainly used as a catcher in the minor leagues, a position he always wanted to play, but he was released in 2012.
“That was kind of it,” Comadena said. “I tried to play some Indy ball, and that didn’t end up working out either, so that was kind of it.”
After being released by the Astros, Comadena started coaching at the collegiate level — just to continue to be around the game.
“To be in a coaching role at Purdue, work with the guys and give back anything I could to the program was a great feeling,” he says. “Purdue certainly played a big role in my development as a person and as a player. It was cool to be a part of the program on the other side.”
As a player at Purdue, Comadena excelled as an outfielder, where he primarily played, but he also spent some time behind the plate and as the DH. As a senior, he started 53 of 58 games as the team’s left fielder and clean-up hitter and helped lead Purdue to runner up finishes in the Big Ten standings and in the conference tournament.
He was enjoying being back at Purdue when Hurdle’s call came.
After Hurdle offered Comadena the opportunity, he discussed the opportunity with his wife Alicyn. A day later, Comadena informed Hurdle he was accepting the offer.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” Comadena says. “I initially heard of this in February, and I hadn’t heard anything further or followed up with anyone … Out of the blue I got the call. I’m just happy and grateful to be here and am trying to make the most out of every day.”
Comadena is one of two bullpen catchers, joining Heberto “Herbie” Andrade, who is in his 13th season in the role.
Though the team is still feeling Comadena out, he’s made himself at home.
“Jordan is brand new here, and we love him,” says relief pitcher Jared Hughes. “He’s a solid catcher back there. He throws a good batting practice, as well. Overall, we’re very happy to have him here, he’s a good guy. He’s doing his job right and making a good impression on everybody.”
Though Comadena finally gets the chance to fulfill his major league dream, he’s not forgetting everything that happened on the journey to get here. In fact, his favorite baseball memories to date may be getting his number retired by the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League in Wisconsin in 2008.
“I played summer ball in Madison in the Northwoods League for three summers while I was at Purdue and really enjoyed my time there,” Comadena says. “I had three great summers playing and tried to make the most of every day. I thrived up there, so, after my third summer, the organization decided to retire my number, 14. Anywhere you get your number retired is kind of a neat thing. Madison is such a special place for me. To get that done there was probably one of my favorite moments.”
That’s not to say Comadena isn’t enjoying every minute of his time with the Pirates. He’s very appreciate of this opportunity and is thrilled to have the experience.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Comadena says. “The organization is first-class. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. It’s been an incredible opportunity, and I hope to be able to help them out however I can moving forward.
Every day, I just can’t wait to get here.”
Image credit: Purdue Sports