Valentin Getting Look At Catcher
For the last few years, Javier Valentin has done too little of anything to feel comfortable anywhere. While with Cincinnati in 2008, Valentin spent time at first base and third base. The Reds often used him as a pinch-hitter. But he started only six games at catcher.
"The problem is, the last few years, I didn't catch enough," Valentin said.
But catching is his trade, and if Valentin makes the Washington Nationals roster, he'll do so as a catcher -- either a back-up or a versatile third-stringer. The more he catches this spring, the better his chances are becoming. Today against the Mets, Valentin went 2-for-3, homering in the fourth inning. In part because of a minor elbow injury to starting catcher Jesus Flores, Valentin has started three of the last five games behind the plate, allowing him a chance, finally, to redevelop some comfort there.
Manager Manny Acta said that the Nationals will pay close attention to Valentin's catching ability. "It's seeing him more behind the plate," Acta said. "He was kind of a third catcher-pinch hitter there in Cincinnati."
Valentin signed with the Nationals on Feb. 3 as a non-roster invitee. The Nationals still like Wil Nieves as their back-up catcher, "but that being said," Acta said, "we brought Javier Valentin to compete for that job, too."
March 8, 2009; 5:21 PM ET
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