SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pat Valaika, whose golden 2017 season was tarnished by a horrible 2018, has regained his swing and confidence. Whether or not meaning he’ll make the 25-man roster out of spring coaching stays to be seen, however he’s making a robust case.
“This has been a vital camp for me, to get a few of my very own confidence again, and in addition to put in some confidence within the crew and the teaching employees,” Valaika stated.
He entered Thursday’s Cactus League play batting .364 (12-for-33) and main the crew in residence runs (4) and RBIs (12). To this point, so good for the 26-year-old from Valencia, Calif.
“I do know they’ve some confidence in me, however I additionally know they need to see me enhance some issues,” he stated. “I feel I’ve, up so far.”
Supervisor Bud Black concurred: “His timing is significantly better. He’s on the fastball and his bat velocity is the place it must be. His pitch recognition has been good. His steadiness is nice within the field. He’s in a great spot.”
All of which may pressure the Rockies into a troublesome roster resolution.
Does Valaika make the crew on the expense of veteran first baseman slugger Mark Reynolds, who has 294 profession residence runs and is a confirmed, right-handed energy bat off the bench? Valaika nonetheless has minor-league choices and could possibly be shipped right down to Triple-A. Reynolds is in camp on a minor-league contract and presently not on the 40-man roster. If he makes the crew, he’ll make $1 million.
Valiaka is aware of that some issues are out of his management, however no less than he has an opportunity to show that final 12 months was an aberration.
The stoop started with a strained left indirect in spring coaching and Valaika by no means gained traction, batting simply .161 as a pinch-hitter and .156 total as he bounced between the majors and Triple-A Albuquerque.
“It began off so unhealthy,” he stated. “I used to be injured and didn’t have lots of time in spring, however I don’t need to use that as an excuse. I simply didn’t play properly early and simply sort of dug myself a gap and put lots of strain on myself.
“It sort of simply snowballed on me. I used to be swimming up stream just about all 12 months. It was a continuing battle for me.”
Only a 12 months earlier, the 2017 season, Valaika had such terrific season as a task participant that he gained a cult following amongst hard-core Rockies followers, who started referring to him as “Patty Barrels.” A .328 common, 4 residence runs (together with a grand slam) and 12 extra-base hits in 66 pinch-hit alternatives stirred the followers’ creativeness.
He can play first, second, third and brief, and even fill in as a nook outfielder. That versatility is efficacious, however he wants to have the ability to thrive as a bat off the bench, probably the most difficult roles in baseball.
After a troublesome two weeks taking part in winter ball in December in Mexico, wherein he batted 1-for-27, he took a tough take a look at his swing.
“I knew I wanted to, not completely rebuild my swing, however discover out what the problems have been,” he stated.
He did his homework, finding out video of his swing, and he additionally consulted with Craig Wallenbrock, a famend, 72-year-old Southern California hitting teacher.
“Piece by piece, I slowly rebuilt my swing,” Valaika stated. “Now I do know what my physique is doing extra and I could make changes now. I’m placing myself in a extra constant place for achievement.
“That’s an enormous enchancment from final 12 months, the place I felt like daily one thing new was popping up. I’m simply attempting to be the identical man daily with the identical boring swing.”