SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pat Valaika, whose golden 2017 season was tarnished by a terrible 2018, has regained his swing and confidence. Whether meaning he’ll make the 25-man roster out of spring coaching stays to be seen, but he’s making a robust case.
“This has been an important camp for me, to get some of my own confidence again, and in addition to install some confidence within the group and the teaching employees,” Valaika stated.
He entered Thursday’s Cactus League play batting .364 (12-for-33) and main the workforce in house runs (four) and RBIs (12). To date, so good for the 26-yr-previous from Valencia, Calif.
“I know they have some confidence in me, however I additionally know they need to see me enhance some things,” he stated. “I feel I’ve, up thus far.”
Manager Bud Black concurred: “His timing is a lot better. He’s on the fastball and his bat velocity is where it must be. His pitch recognition has been good. His stability is sweet within the box. He’s in a great spot.”
All of which might pressure the Rockies into a troublesome roster choice.
Does Valaika make the workforce on the expense of veteran first baseman slugger Mark Reynolds, who has 294 career residence runs and is a proven, proper-handed power bat off the bench? Valaika nonetheless has minor-league options and might be shipped right down to Triple-A. Reynolds is in camp on a minor-league contract and presently not on the forty-man roster. If he makes the workforce, he’ll make $1 million.
Valiaka is aware of that some issues are out of his management, but a minimum of he has an opportunity to prove that last yr was an aberration.
The droop began with a strained left oblique in spring training and Valaika by no means gained traction, batting simply .161 as a pinch-hitter and .156 general as he bounced between the majors and Triple-A Albuquerque.
“It started off so dangerous,” he stated. “I used to be injured and didn’t have loads of time in spring, however I don’t need to use that as an excuse. I simply didn’t play properly early and just sort of dug myself a hole and put a variety of strain on myself.
“It sort of simply snowballed on me. I was swimming up stream just about all yr. It was a continuing battle for me.”
Only a yr earlier, the 2017 season, Valaika had such terrific season as a task participant that he gained a cult following among onerous-core Rockies followers, who started referring to him as “Patty Barrels.” A .328 common, four house runs (including a grand slam) and 12 additional-base hits in sixty six pinch-hit opportunities stirred the fans’ imagination.
He can play first, second, third and brief, and even fill in as a corner outfielder. That versatility is effective, but he needs to have the ability to thrive as a bat off the bench, one of the difficult roles in baseball.
After a troublesome two weeks enjoying winter ball in December in Mexico, through which he batted 1-for-27, he took a hard take a look at his swing.
“I knew I wanted to, not completely rebuild my swing, however find out what the issues have been,” he stated.