Updated by Joe D. at 5:00 PM
Here’s a brief update to this morning’s Jordany Valdespin post. Dog-house or not, it would seem like a big mistake to me if Valdespin fails to go north with the Mets when all is said and done.
That said, Terry Collins continues to downplay his chances of making the team, saying, “It’s March 8th. I’ll wait.”
It could be the manger’s way of keeping the 25-year old Valdespin motivated.
Valdespin made his first start of the spring in the outfield today, and he really put an exclamation point on his performance. With the game knotted at 1-1, ‘Spin put a charge into one and launched a solo home run in the seventh to give the Mets the lead. It was his second homer of the Spring and he is now batting .333 through eight games.
The Mets went on to lose the game 3-2 to the Tigers.
After the game, Collins admitted that Valdespin has played well and adds energy to the lineup. “He likes to play. He loves to be on the stage. He plays with some flair,” Collins said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But he certainly plays with some energy, too. We need that.”
Original Post 6:50 AM
Before the game yesterday, Jordany Valdespin sat by his locker, his eyes glued to a television showing the Phillies-Nationals highlights. However, his mind seemed elsewhere, but apparently not on his quest to be the Opening Day leadoff hitter in center.
“They have a decision to make, and the only thing I can do is keep playing hard and give them something to think about,’’ Valdespin said. “I can’t make the decision. I have to play hard and see what happens in spring training.’’
Valdespin rarely made eye contact, instead kept on watching the television.
Valdespin has several factors working in his favor. He’s able to play second base as well as the outfield, and versatility is always a plus. He hit five pinch homers last season, so he has the ability to jump-start a rally. He can also get things going with his speed.
Whether he’s a starter or role player, he’ll take either. There have been times when Valdespin’s attitude didn’t always endear himself to the Mets’ brass, including being suspended in winter ball. He seems to have gotten the message.
“I’m happy with whatever they want me to do,’’ Valdespin said. “I’ll work hard either way.’’
Valdespin led off and played second yesterday against the Marlins, and as he has been doing in almost all his Grapefruit League opportunities, he stood out with his dynamic play. He has the ability to be a catalyst and a difference maker when he’s in the lineup. I can see that now.
During the game he was robbed of an extra-base hit on a fly ball down the right field line in the first inning. But as I wrote yesterday, what was impressive about the at-bat was not the near hit, but how Valdespin worked the count full after being behind.
“The more pitches I see, the better,’’ said Valdespin, who started at second base and made a running catch down the right field line on a foul ball.
Collins said Valdespin is showing more discipline, and noted his third at-bat when he was unhappy with a strike call, but kept his focus and didn’t give away the at-bat.
“He’s getting better at being aggressive, but working the count,’’ Collins said. “He fought off some tough pitches and hit the ball hard.’’
Thoughts by Joe D.
It was thought originally by some, that Valdespin would be squeezed out because of a numbers crunch on the roster this Spring. The additions of Andrew Brown and Collin Cowgill made an outfield spot difficult to envision especially when you add in how high the organization is on Matt Den Dekker.
Trying to find a spot as an infielder seems to be a more difficult challenge. Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla are both well liked by Collins, and then you have Zach Lutz, Josh Satin and Brian Bixler all jockeying for a job too.
Valdespin is one of the few Met players who is having a solid spring at the plate and in 20 at-bats he’s made the most of his opportunity with a slash of .350/.381/.500. When he’s on the field there’s an electricity about him that’s easy to see. He’s always moving and looking and waiting for his chance to impact the game and contribute to a win.
It’s becoming very difficult to overlook what Valdespin can bring to the 2013 Mets. Like Jose Reyes before him, he can add a charge to the top of the order and ignite a rally.
He’s letting his play do all the talking now and while he seems to be an outcast at times in the clubhouse, it would behoove Terry Collins and the Mets to remedy that situation and let bygones be bygones.
The talent is there… The desire is there… The high upside is there… The love of the game is there… But will he be there at Citi Field on Opening Day? Only the Mets hold the answer to that question.