Wilson Valdez knows his place with the Phillies. When the journeyman infielder somehow turned into a super-utility player late last season, Valdez didn’t get carried away.
“I’m not one of those guys,” said Valdez, as he pointed toward Phillies stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. “I’m just doing the best I can.”
Valdez, 32, did a tremendous job filling in for the injured Utley and Placido Polanco. The quiet Dominican played in 111 games and had career highs in batting average (.258), RBIs (35) and doubles (16).
Prior to joining the Phillies, Valdez was a spare part for the Mets, White Sox, Padres and Mariners. His career average prior to 2009 was .221. While Valdez had strong defensive skills at an early age, his bat wasn’t quite there.
“I remember when he was a teammate of mine with Seattle [in 2005],” former Phillie and Mariner Jamie Moyer said. “Pitchers used to knock the bat out of his hands.”
But hitting master Charlie Manuel was impressed with the 2009 non-roster invitee to spring training. Entering last night’s game, Valdez was hitting. 235 for the season, with 11 runs scored and five RBIs.
“I saw good talent,” Manuel said. “I saw first-step quickness. He’s a good fielder with a great arm. He has a good stride. He runs like an outfielder. He has quite a bit of talent, and I thought he could develop his offensive game.”
Play like ‘Wilson Valdez’
Wilson Valdez has been the primary sub for Chase Utley (patellar tendinitis) this season. After getting off to a hot start, the infielder has cooled off considerably. But that’s OK, according to his teammates.
“I think he has down a great job,” Ryan Howard said. “All he has to do is play like Wilson Valdez and he’ll be fine. He doesn’t have to be like anybody else in this clubhouse. We’re fortunate to have him. We’re going to need him this season.”