PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed is sure he would never have made it to the major leagues without the help of Red Sox hitting coach Pete Fatse.
Fatse, in turn, believes he would not be in his job were it not for Ahmed.
“It’s crazy that we grew up together and we’re here in the big leagues,” Fatse said. “If you told me 10 years ago that both of us would be here, I’d have never believed it.”
Even better, they have been in the same ballpark this weekend with the Sox visiting the Diamondbacks.
“That’s a first,” Ahmed said. “It’s really great, especially when you consider how it all started.”
Ahmed, 33, and Fatse, 35, grew up on the same ballfields in Western Massachusetts, playing against each other in high school — Ahmed at East Longmeadow, Fatse at Minnechaug — and together with the East Longmeadow Legion team.
They joined up again as teammates at the University of Connecticut in 2009.
Ahmed was a second-round pick by the Braves in 2011. Fatse, from Hamden, was already in the minor leagues after being selected by the Brewers in the 24th round of the 2009 draft.
A gifted defender, Ahmed needed help with his hitting. He found it working with Fatse, who opened his own hitting school in Palmer in 2013 as his playing career was winding down.
“Nick literally helped me paint the walls and move in the equipment,” Fatse said. “He’s like a brother to me. But even before that, we were always talking about hitting and comparing our swings to big leaguers.
“Eventually I became way more excited about giving other people information and seeing them flourish. I preferred coaching.”
Once it became a profession, Fatse dove in. He spent his last $2,000 on Right View Pro, a now-antiquated video device designed to break down swings.
“Pete was committed to coaching,” Ahmed said. “He’s really good at what he does. I wouldn’t be here without the work we did.”
Ahmed, who was traded to Arizona in 2013, hit .312 with a .798 OPS in Triple A in 2014 and made his major league debut that June. This is his 10th season in the majors.
Ahmed is Arizona’s career leader for games at shortstop and has two Gold Gloves. He spends much of the offseason back in Massachusetts with his wife, Amanda, and their three kids.
As Ahmed found success in the majors, doors opened for Fatse.
In 2018, the Twins were looking for a minor league hitting coordinator and contacted University of Rhode Island coach Raphael Cerrato.
Cerrato, who is Ahmed’s uncle, wasn’t interested. But he recommended Fatse.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to interview this guy.’ That’s what got my name in circulation,” Fatse said.
Fatse landed the job and spent a year with the Twins before being named assistant hitting coach with the Red Sox shortly after the 2019 season.
He was promoted to hitting coach following the 2020 season. The Sox are since fifth in the majors in runs, second in batting average, and fourth in OPS.
Ahmed and Fatse had breakfast together on Thursday. But at the park, it’s been all business.
“I would lay down in traffic for Nick. I love the guy. But we’re here to win games,” Fatse said.
Chang takes a pause
Yu Chang was scheduled to play a second injury rehab game for Double A Portland on Saturday. But, instead, he headed back to Boston for more treatment on his left hand after feeling some soreness Friday night.
Chang will likely rejoin Portland for its game on Tuesday in Somerset, N.J.
Chang broke his hamate bone on April 24 and had surgery to remove it a few days later.
Christian Arroyo started at second base for Triple A Worcester in his second rehab game and was 1 for 4. He will get reevaluated in Boston on Monday then rejoin a minor league team to continue getting at-bats.
Arroyo is recovering from a strained right hamstring.
Devers out again
Rafael Devers was out of the lineup again with a tight left calf. “I talked to him [Saturday] morning and decided to give him one more day,” manager Alex Cora said. “He feels better but one more day doesn’t hurt anybody.” The hope is Devers returns Sunday . . . Lefthander Brennan Bernardino was optioned to Triple A Worcester to open a roster spot for Garrett Whitlock coming off the injured list. Bernardino, 31, pitched a scoreless ninth inning Friday to drop his ERA to 3.38 in 12 appearances . . . Infielder Adalberto Mondesi remains in Fort Myers, Fla., receiving treatment on his left knee. He is doing baseball workouts but is not ready for games. “It’s rehab. Everybody reacts differently to rehab,” Cora said. It has been 13 months since Mondesi last played. He had ACL surgery last May . . . Arizona optioned righthanders Brandon Pfaadt and Luis Frias to Triple A Reno after they combined to allow six runs Friday. Righthanders Zach Davies and Drey Jameson were recalled. Davies started Saturday’s 2-1 loss, giving up two runs on five hits in 3⅓ innings.