Carroll welcomed home, ring in hand

Carroll welcomed home, ring in hand

DENVER -- Indians second baseman Jamey Carroll was more than another opponent at Coors Field on Tuesday night. He was an old friend.

Carroll was a co-star in the biggest highlight in Rockies history. It was his sacrifice fly to right field that drove in Matt Holliday as the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning of the epic Wild Card tiebreaker victory over the Padres. The Rockies would advance to the World Series.

The Red Sox swept the Rockies in the Series, but Carroll nearly prevented that. In the 4-3 loss in Game 4, Carroll knocked a deep fly ball that nearly sailed for a home run.

The Rockies lost 2007 regular second baseman Kazuo Matsui to the Astros via free agency. Hoping that former No. 1 pick Jayson Nix (now at Triple-A Colorado Springs) was ready to become the starter at second base, the Rockies dealt Carroll to the Indians for a player to be named, who turned out to be Minor League pitcher Sean Smith.

On Tuesday, Carroll received a warm ovation, and the Rockies honored him with a scoreboard video tribute. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, vice chairman Dick Monfort, president Keli McGregor and general manager Dan O'Dowd presented Carroll with his National League championship ring at home plate before the Indians-Rockies game.

"I understand it's not a World Series ring, but it's something you play for -- to get a chance to get something that's a symbol of going through a lot of emotional good times and bad times," Carroll said before the ceremony. "Knowing that they've had them for a while, to finally get it is exciting. I've been looking forward to it.

"I think that was one of the first things I looked at, to see where we were going for Interleague Play. It's great to come back here, get the ring and see everybody outside of the game of baseball as far as people that work security that I became friends with, and even some front office people -- and some of the restaurants I've been to, to see those people"

Carroll started at second base for the Indians on Tuesday. Acquired as a reserve, he took over when Josh Barfield suffered a left middle finger sprain. Carroll arrived hitting .287 with no homers and 10 RBIs.

"It's fun to come back a place where you've been for a few years, with everything I've gone through with them," Carroll said. "It's exciting to have a chance to play against them. Once we get the game going it'll be another game, but it sure has a little extra excitement from a personal standpoint, as far as playing against your friends."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.