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Barnes relied on faith during trying time

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SAN DIEGO -- Tuesday was another start -- in center field, batting leadoff against the Padres -- and one more day in a job Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes never thought he'd land. He nearly walked away when he was oh-so close.

Barnes didn't make it to the Majors until his eighth pro season, 2012. He nearly left the game a year earlier.

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"To be honest, in 2011, I was in Triple-A for the first time, struggled big time," said Barnes, who batted a .197 with 69 strikeouts in 71 games for Oklahoma City. "I sat up one night, 4 o'clock in the morning in Texas. I was frustrated. I almost quit. I wanted to be done.

"I actually called my pastor, and I told him, 'I think I'm done here.' And I called my wife. They both said the same thing: God put you here for a reason. Go out there, have fun, play until someone takes your jersey off your back. I took that with a grain of salt, then said, 'You know, that's right.'"

Barnes, of course, would pull it together in 2012 and earn a late-season promotion to the Astros, and he spent all of last season with the team. Traded to the Rockies last winter, Barnes made the team with a standout Spring Training by showing he could execute offensively and play all three defensive positions.

From a baseball perspective, Barnes figured himself out offensively.

"I've always been fine defensively," said Barnes, who entered Tuesday hitting .261. "It's been something that's come natural to me. But I started to figure things out -- how to hit the ball the other way, how to have a two-strike approach, to be able to manage at-bats."

But Barnes, 27, knew nothing he did with the bat was more important than what came out of those two phone calls.

"Being in the big leagues wasn't for me now," Barnes said. "It was to glorify God and do other things with the platform that we're given up here. Once I took that approach and stopped worrying about my stats and worrying about if I'm ever going to get to the big leagues, I went out and had fun, played for my faith, always played for the team and, lastly, played for me, things turned around. I just had fun. It was like being a 12-year-old in Little League again.

"If we all came to an agreement that there was something else I could be doing to glorify God in a better way or support my family in a better way, we would have made that decision at that time. But I think we came to an agreement that my life and my dream and what God wanted for me was to use this platform that we are given and share."

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

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