"I remember being down here before and thinking, 'Oh man, I'm in Triple-A again,' " Macias said Friday before Tucson's 3-2, 10-inning win over New Orleans. "Now, it's like, this is heaven. After what I've been through, I'll be here every day with a smile on my face."
That's what independent baseball will do to a player.
Macias first played Triple-A ball in the Pacific Coast League in 2007 with Portland and played with the Beavers again in 2009. Last season, the 28-year-old outfielder was a part-time player with the Reno Aces and hit .255 in just 274 at-bats in 102 games.
After the season, Macias was a free agent and wasn't sure what was next.
"I got to the point where I didn't have any offers," he said. "There was some interest and a few teams called and said they'd call me the next week or whatever, but then the rosters filled up and that was it."
He wasn't ready to stop playing and eventually hooked up with the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. He struggled and started wondering if his career, which included 69 games with San Diego over three seasons, was over.
"I'm not someone who quits, but realistically, I was thinking to myself, 'I'm in indie ball, I'm not doing great, this may be it,'" Macias said.
"Mentally, it was tough. You're just wondering if your career is almost done."
The outfielder picked it up after "rebooting" during the All-Star break and played better in the second half of the season and got his average up to a respectable .267. He was finding his swing and his confidence and hoped good news was around the corner.
When he arrived in Waldorf, Md., with his Riversharks teammates to play Southern Maryland on Wednesday, he was called into his manager's office and told the Padres had re-signed him and he needed to report to Tucson right away.
"I was pumped," said Macias, who is predominately a center fielder, but can play all three outfield spots. "I'm a positive guy and I've always kind of pictured what a great story it would be if I ever got back to the big leagues."
His road back got off to a good start Thursday in his first game with Tucson. He had a sacrifice fly in his first plate appearance and contributed a two-run double in the sixth with the Padres trailing 3-1.
For Tucson manager Terry Kennedy, who was Macias' hitting coach in 2008 with Double-A San Antonio, it was a welcome sight.
"That was beautiful," Kennedy said. "That double could not have come at a better time. He was very excited to be back here and out of independent ball. I was really happy for him."
Kennedy made sure to have some fun with Macias when he arrived in the clubhouse.
"I asked him if he was making more here or in indy ball and he said, 'I would have paid you to come back here,'" Kennedy said. "That just shows you how much he wants to get another shot. He's a great guy."