Currently aboard the Keystone regional on my way back from New York City, where I was catching up with former Archbishop Carroll star Mike Costanzo, who saw his long and winding road through the minors finally pay off over the weekend when the Reds called him up to the majors at the age of 28 years old. In the meantime, I had a chance to chat with former Phillies utility man Wilson Valdez, who was traded to the Reds this offseason in a move that caught many people by surprise. Valdez was one of those people. He was at home in the Dominican Republic when general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called to inform him of the deal. Up to that point, Valdez figured he was headed for a third straight season with the Phillies. The two sides had already agreed to a contract through arbitration, which jibed with what Amaro had told reporters earlier in the offseason, that the club had no thoughts of non-tendering the veteran infielder.
"He told me they were giving an opportunity to Martinez and Galvis," Valdez said.
Valdez saw significant playing time for the Phillies in 2010 and 2011 as the team suffered a rash of injuries to infielders, including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. In his first four seasons in the majors, Valdez had maxed out at 148 plate appearances. In 2010 alone, he logged 363, hitting .258 with a .306 on base percentage and .360 slugging percentage while starting 50 games at shortstop, 35 at second base, and three at third base. Valdez is probably best known for the inning he pitched in the 19th inning of a marathon win over the Reds last year. He retired three of the four batters he faced to pick up the win.
Thus far this season, Valdez has started seven games for the Reds, hitting .189/.184/.243 in 40 plate appearances.
"I play sometimes," he said. "I don't play the way that I played in Philly. Any time that I get a chance I try to play good."
Like anybody with an ounce of pride, Valdez was stung a bit by the trade. Thus far, though, Freddy Galvis has posted Valdezian numbers while playing spectacular defense at second base. And the addition of Mike Fontenot on a minor league deal will cost the team half as much as they had agreed to pay Valdez.
Asked if he misses Philly, Valdez shrugged.
"It's all the same," he said. "Just different names and different people. But it's all the same. It's something that I'm used to. An opportunity, a chance to play, that's all I want. I don't see that a lot here, but I'm waiting for that chance."