Freddy Galvis never got his chance to say goodbye to Citizens Bank Park. The 28-year-old shortstop was shipped to San Diego in December after more than 600 games with the club that gave him a shot at the big leagues six years ago.
So, when Galvis stepped into the batter’s box for the first time Friday night, the Philadelphia faithful welcomed him back with a solid round of applause.
“There were a lot of good memories,” Galvis said of returning to Philadelphia. “It was weird to pass the door for the clubhouse and keep walking, but it’s a good feeling. … Every time I come here, it’s going to be a special moment for me.”
Galvis, known for his defense, has remained a force in the field with the Padres. His .987 fielding percentage ranks sixth among everyday shortstops in the majors and he is tied for third in defensive runs saved at nine.
The Venezuelan has two of the 50 best seasons at shortstop in terms of fielding percentage, and entering Friday, Galvis’ 2018 mark ranked 51st in MLB history.
The Phillies, on the other hand, have struggled in the very spot that Galvis vacated. The team’s shortstops have combined for 13 errors and their -11 defensive runs saved is fifth-worst among all clubs in professional baseball.
Even though Galvis knew the Phillies had young talent like Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford in the pipeline heading into 2018, his departure still came as a shock.
“I was surprised, [but] it’s business,” Galvis said. “I’ve understood that since day one. I’m not 15 years old, I’m 28, so I know it’s about business and you just move on.”
This group of Phillies is different from any Galvis played with, though. Those teams never had a winning season — the high-water mark came in his first season, when the Phillies ended 2012 at 81-81.
Barring a catastrophe, the 2018 Phillies will easily surpass that number.
“You always want to be on a winning team, but at the end of the day, I’m just proud for the guys,” Galvis said. “I know I helped those guys build to what they’re doing right now.”
Other than the ballpark, not much remains from Galvis’ early years. No one from the 2012 team is still in Philadelphia, and among active players just Cesar Hernandez played for the Phillies in 2013.
But what is left is a young core that Galvis helped mold. He’s happy to see them succeed, even if that means he’ll be on the losing end this weekend.
“I was the big brother in the clubhouse for all those guys,” Galvis said. “They’re playing pretty good and I take credit for that and I hope they can keep doing well. They deserve that.”