GARY | Alain Quijano's life kept pulling him back to the Chicago area.
He teaches at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill. He and his fiancee have a home in Mount Greenwood.
When he had the chance to request a move, he asked for a trade that would take him from the Grand Prairie AirHogs -- a 2 1/2-hour flight from Midway -- to his third tour with the RailCats -- a 40-minute drive from his home.
Though he's been with the RailCats two previous seasons, it will be the first time in his career that he'll start the season in Gary.
The left-handed pitcher is coming off of one of his best seasons in the American Association. He had a 3.32 ERA in 13 games in Sioux City in 2012, then went to Grand Prairie when the AirHogs were in the hunt for the postseason.
He said that when he was in Sioux City and RailCats outfielder Cristian Guerrero was in Sioux Falls, the two talked frequently about wanting to return to play for Gary.
Both are back on the roster for 2013.
In Quijano's first term with the 'Cats in 2009, he played in five games, all as a reliever.
In his second stint in Gary in 2011, he was brought in while the RailCats were suffering injuries to their pitching staff. He had opened the season in St. Paul with what he called "the biggest ERA in the country," then came to the RailCats and immediately beat his former Saints teammates.
He was supposed to be a one-week spot starter in 2011, and finished starting 13 games with a 4-3 record, a 4.61 ERA that was the second-lowest among pitchers in the RailCats' rotation and a 1.42 WHIP that was the best.
"I wanted to be here because (my fiancee's) family was here. I thought, 'I'd better get my crap together,' and in my first starts, my ERA was one of the best in the league," Quijano said. "I'm 30 now, and my 20s are behind me. I feel good coming in this year ... I want to win and I want to be a part of this group."
Quijano went to Sioux City as the RailCats worked to convert former relievers into rotation pitchers last season.
During this offseason, it was easy for manager Greg Tagert to want the 30-year-old back.
"He's a guy who wants to be a RailCat," Tagert said. "One of his best attributes, and it tends to be something that's overlooked because his radar numbers don't necessarily impress, is that he's got 'good stuff.' When he's pitched against our guys, they say that, that he's got good stuff. He competes at his highest intensity every time out and he does everything he can to win, even when his fastball is a couple miles less than where it normally is.
"He is confident and the club playing behind him sees that extra intensity and knows 'this is a guy that's going to give us a chance to win a game.'"
The 13 pitchers in camp are a mix of seven rookies, with a couple of older players peppered in. Quijano is one of six who had previously been on a RailCats roster.
Quijano said that if he doesn't retire in a Major League uniform, he hopes the last number he pulls on will have a RailCats logo on the front.
"Whenever my career does end, I don't think I'll be in another uniform," Quijano said. "I don't see myself in any other uniform."