Last night before the game, former Mets manager and new ESPN Sunday Night Analyst Bobby Valentine met with Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. They exchanged greetings, talked, and Valentine kissed the back of his hand.
According to David Waldstein of the NY Times, Valentine then came away with a huge smile, and said, “And by the way, in case anyone asks, I made him into a switch-hitter.”
Valentine brought Reyes, who spoke little English, and the bilingual coach Juan Lopez into the batting cage in the Orioles’ complex and worked with him for more than an hour, focusing purely on Reyes’s left-handed swing. Valentine watched, demonstrated, explained and educated the young prospect.
“I took about 1,000 swings from the left side,” Reyes said. “He would watch me for a while and then say something and I would do what he just said. Then he would watch me take a few more swings and he would tell me something else. It went on like that for over an hour. I was sweating and getting tired, and listening to everything he said. It was great. I never forgot that day.”
He said that after that day with Valentine, he took a new confidence into the left-handed batter’s box with him.
“I really appreciated what he did for me,” Reyes said. “I was very young and up to that point I didn’t have anyone like that who could spend more than an hour working with me. That was a key for me, it really was. It was very important for me to become a real switch-hitter.”
I had never heard this story before this morning. Thanks Bobby.