Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Valdez hopes to earn infield job with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Hoping to earn a job with the San Francisco Giants, infielder Wilson Valdez is with his 12th big league organization.

Freddie Sanchez and Ryan Theriot no longer are with the Giants, and the 34-year-old Valdez hopes to beat out 28-year-old Tony Abreu and 31-year-old Kensuke Tanaka for a roster spot with the World Series champions.

Valdez has played for seven major league teams. He’s been traded six times, released six times and spent a year in Japan.

“I’ve got to show them what I can bring,” Valdez said. “I just want to play hard and play smart.”

In 439 major league games, Valdez has a .981 fielding percentage, including .990 at second base. He has a .236 batting average with six home runs and 107 RBIs.

“Everybody wants a chance to play,” Valdez said. “The more you play, the better you can be. I’ll continue to do my best and hope for an opportunity.”

His versatility could work in his favor. Valdez also has appeared in the outfield in addition to playing three infield spots.

“Yes, it is kind of hard when you don’t have a set spot,” Valdez said. “For me, I’m going to find a spot, get there, work hard and prove myself to everybody. I’m always working with the mindset of preparing to help the team.”

He’s with the team he played against during each of San Francisco’s World Series title seasons. He was with Philadelphia in 2010 and Cincinnati last year.

“I watched this team and they were always together,” Valdez said. “They pushed one another and even the guys on the bench were pushing the team to get better. They played like a family and they all played hard.”

The atmosphere, he says, is the same this spring training.

“Even being here a few days I feel comfortable,” he said. “Everybody has been good to me and there’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Valdez produced his two best seasons with the Phillies in 2010-11, where he earned significant playing time and got more than 300 at-bats each year.

Philadelphia used him at shortstop and second base. He also saw time at third and even ended up on the mound — getting a win with a scoreless inning.

“I think I was liked there even before I pitched,” Valdez said. “Afterward, people would stop me on the street and ask about the pitching.”

On May 25, 2011, against the Cincinnati Reds, he relieved in the top of the 19th inning, getting Joey Votto to fly out deep to center, hitting Scott Rolen with a pitch and then retiring Jay Bruce and Carlos Fisher on fly balls.

Raul Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, and Valdez was mobbed.

“They asked me if the team ran of pitchers, could I help them,” he said. “I said ‘I’ll be ready when you need me.’ I was just letting it go. Since I’m not a pitcher nothing really bothered me. I’m just glad I got those guys out.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Valdez became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start in the field and end up with a pitching decision.

The next year, when Valdez was with the Reds, Philadelphia fans were disappointed when he was not in the starting lineup in his return. They booed Dusty Baker.

Valdez has played six positions at one time or another, and he’d consider right field, first base and catcher too.

Was he ever a catcher?

“I was before,” Valdez said. “I could be the last chance there, anything to help the team. All I can do is be ready if they need me.”

Notes: RHP Tim Lincecum’s first scheduled session pitching to batters was rained out and he threw off a mound in a batting cage, with hitters standing in the box. … Hitters were sent to the minor league facility for batting practice. … RHP Boof Bonser is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday, his first action of spring training. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy hoped to schedule a five-inning intersquad game before opening the exhibition schedule at home Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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