By: By Andy McKeever On: 02:39PM / Friday April 15, 2011
The Parks Commission interviewed the two groups looking to bring a baseball team to Wahconah Park one last time before rendering the 'tough' decision.
Colonials owner Buddy Lewis and manager Jamie Keefe pose for photos at Wahconah Park with newly signed Pittsfield resident Chad Paronto and his children.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After pitching seven season in the major leagues, Chad Paronto is coming home.
The 35-year-old city resident signed a contract with the Pittsfield Colonials in dual roles as pitching coach and starter.
Despite having been invited to spring training by multiple professional clubs, Paronto decided to hang up his professional career to be closer to his family.
"I know that I can pitch in the big leagues but that's the least of my concerns," Paronto said at a press conference Friday. "I chose to retire for my family."
Last season, Paronto led the Pawtucket Red Sox in appearances with 54 and posted a 4.22 ERA out of the bullpen. But at the end of the year, he said he began thinking of retiring in order to spend more time with his children.
When Colonials manager Jamie Keefe found that out in January, he jumped at the opportunity to bring him in as a coach. The two reached a deal earlier this week.
"I know Chad wants to be able to help the younger players," Keefe said.
Paronto moved to the city 15 years ago when he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He got his first crack in the show in 2001 when he posted a 5.00 ERA in 24 games. He then went to the Cleveland Indians for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He spent the following two seasons in the minors before getting back to the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves.
With the Braves, he posed a 3.18 ERA in 11 appearances in 2006 and a 3.57 ERA in 12 appearances in 2007. He then pitched for the Houston Astros for two years before signing with the Red Sox.
"I could have gone back to the Red Sox but I chose not to," Paronto said. "I was most excited about the coaching aspect."
The team is comprised of players who could play in the upper levels in the next few years, Keefe said, and Paronto is looked at to be the mentor and leader.
"We want to win a championship. We want to win it for the city," team owner Buddy Lewis said. "Chad brings the leadership to get that championship."
He will be used mostly as a coach but will also be part of the starting rotation.
"I've got plenty of bullets left," Paronto said.
Paronto pitched in 177 professional games going 6-12 with a 4.32 ERA in 183.1 innings. He struck out 107 batters and walked 66. With the bat, he got three professional plate appearances and stuck out all three times.
The colonials open the season at home on May 26. Keefe said there are three roster spots left to be filled.
"We look forward to a real exciting baseball season," Mayor James Ruberto said.