Last season at the major league level for the New York Mets and more recently in Winter ball, Jordany Valdespin spent much of his time trying his hand as an outfielder. The 25-year-old hit eight homers in just 191 at-bats for New York, many of which came in dramatic fashion. In 42 at-bats as a pinch-hitter, ‘Spin’ hit five of his homers and on the season he was also successful in 10 of his 13 stolen base attempts.
Despite providing a good bit of much needed excitement for fans that were often starving for just that throughout much of the year, the long term plans for Valdespin seem unclear after an uneven rookie campaign. Yesterday, according to Athony DiComo of mlb.com, New York Mets manager Terry Collins did his best to clarify his outlook for Jordany as he enters his sophomore campaign and apparently it wasn’t centered sole about a role in the outfield, despite the Mets being weakest in that area.
Though Jordany Valdespin may finally be growing comfortable as an outfielder, the Mets believe his immediate future lies on the infield dirt.
“He played a lot of outfield in winter ball. This spring, we need to put him back in the infield a little bit,” manager Terry Collins said Saturday after Valdespin reported to camp. “We know if need be, we can play him in the outfield. We need to take a look at him in the infield right now.”
Image by Michael G. Baron
Though second base is Valdespin’s natural position, that may hurt his already-slim chances of making the Opening Day roster. Coming into camp, all four of the Mets’ starting infielders are entrenched in their roles, with Justin Turner an overwhelming favorite to secure one bench spot. That leaves one slot open for Brandon Hicks or Brian Bixler — and Hicks is out of Minor League options, making him the early favorite for the assignment.
Ideally, the Mets would like to see Valdespin mature both on and off the field before handing him another big league job. On the diamond, Valdespin showed a propensity for chasing pitches during his rookie season, striking out in 19 of his final 68 plate appearances. Off the field, he displayed continued immaturity this winter when he posted a Twitter picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap — a photo that he claims his cousin posted without his consent.
Regardless of intent, the Mets hope that Valdespin grows both as a person and a player this spring.”
The Mets have plenty of ‘good guys’ on the team and I like the flare that Valdespin can potentially provide to the club. So for me, his maturity at the plate is the most important thing and we’ll see what Dave Hudgens and company can do to improve his approach.