At All-Star Game, a friendship born in Colorado Rockies organization endures

SEATTLE — Carlos Estevez and Elias Diaz may no longer be teammates on the Colorado Rockies, but that doesn’t mean the friendship the two forged together during their three seasons in Denver has frayed at all.

Former Colorado Rockies teammates reunite in Seattle for the All-Star Game

Estevez, now with the Los Angeles Angels, and Diaz, representing the Rockies as the first catcher in franchise history to make the Midsummer Classic, celebrated not only their appearance in the All-Star Game during Monday’s media availability, but also the fact that the other made it to the festivities in Seattle as well.

“We were in San Francisco and Estevez texted me saying he wasn’t going to watch the (All-Star) game, but since he knew I was going to be there, he would watch it,” Diaz said. “The next day, I saw the news that Estevez was going to be in the All-Star Game. I texted him back and said, “Hey boy, you’re going to be with me. Have fun!”

While Diaz knew that he had made the team when the NL rosters first came out, Estevez was a late addition to the team, subbing in for Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase who will stay home to be with his newborn child.

Estevez said on Monday that he wasn’t expecting to come to the All-Star Game, so he had bought a flight home. Then, he was surprised in an amazing way by his Angels teammates.

Both Estevez and Diaz have certainly earned their way to Seattle, with Diaz slashing .277/.328/.435 with nine homers and 45 RBI (tied with third baseman Ryan McMahon for the team lead). The 32-year-old catcher has also been invaluable behind the plate, working with a Rockies rotation that has been decimated by injuries this season, including Kyle Freeland, who went down on Sunday in the final game before the All-Star break with a shoulder injury.

“It’s been a big challenge for me,” Diaz admitted on Monday. “I’ve tried to help my pitchers and to help the team the best that I can.”

That includes taking a leadership role in the clubhouse, with Diaz saying, “There are a lot of young guys right now. I don’t feel like I’m a leader right now, but I think they see me as one of the leaders.”

Estevez has indeed overcome dealing with Coors Field and its hangover this season (as he discussed with us during the Angels’ recent trip to Denver), posting a 1.80 ERA/3.57 FIP/1.286 WHIP in 35.0 innings over 36 games, earning 21 saves, tied for sixth-highest in all of baseball.

So does Estevez get more questions about pitching at Coors Field or playing with Shohei Ohtani?

“Every time I get on an interview, I get maybe two questions about Ohtani and one about pitching at Coors, but they’re pretty close,” Estevez laughed. “I’m surprised how much I get asked about how it feels to not be pitching there any more. I don’t feel like it’s a true leaving. I’m going to pitch, no matter where I am. I’m going to make it. It’s helped me with consistency, and that’s one thing I’ve noticed now that I’m away from Coors, but I’m still learning.”

Should it come down to Estevez and Diaz squaring off on Tuesday night, Diaz says the friendship will take a temporary back seat to business.

“We are friends, but now we have to compete,” Diaz said. “He’s going to try to strike me out and I’m going to try to hit a homer.”