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Former D-backs player and commentator Mark Grace speaks about time in Tent City

PHOENIX — Former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman and television commentator Mark Grace is nearing the end of his four-month stay in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City.

Grace, who was convicted of two DUI arrests (May 30, 2011 and August 23, 2012) in a 15-month period, spoke openly to the media Wednesday night about his experience behind bars.

“This has certainly been a life-changing event for me,” Grace said. “I’m going to be better because of this, but I deserved to be here.”

When asked if he’s worried how his stay in Tent City will affect the public image and reputation he built as a well-respected ballplayer and analyst, the 2001 World Series champion said he’s not.

“Regardless of what you do in life, there’s going to be people who like you and people that don’t like you,” said Grace. “That’s the way it is. People are going to believe what they want to believe.

“I know that I’m not an evil person, just made a really, really rotten decision and ended up here.”

While the D-backs didn’t retain Grace’s services in the booth after the 2012 season, the organization did hire him in February to serve as a minor-league hitting instructor — a role he’ll resume after his June 10 release.

Grace was asked if he’s fearful of returning to his old habits once he reenters life outside the walls of Tent City, but the 16-year MLB veteran said he believes he’s moved past his bad decisions.

“If I do it again, I’m going to be in the Arizona Department of Corrections for over a year,” said Grace. “Like I said, my kids deserve better than that. My family deserves better than that.

“If I’m that stinking stupid to do that again, I want you to come punch me right in the mouth.”

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