The new Reds center fielder? (Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

Wilson!!! Valdez Assists Reds in 7-3 Win Over Mets

The Reds have recently experienced an illness bug. Now, the injury bug has bitten the roster once again. Finally, Drew Stubbs was placed on the disabled list after going more than a week without being able to contribute. Chris Heisey is listed as day-to-day after being pulled during the last game of the Indians series due to a mild strain of his left groin. That left Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce as the only outfielders on the active roster.

Yes, Todd Frazier can play outfield, but he’s more of a left fielder. If you start him in left, the who’s in center? You don’t want to move Jay Bruce there even though he has played there before. So, who?

With the DLing of Stubbs and the unknown daily status of Heisey, the Reds called up Willie Harris. And the collective Reds fan base groans…

Like Frazier, Harris is more a corner outfielder now despite the fact he has played that position in 237 games during his career. He’s played left field more than any other outfield position.

No, Dusty Baker turned to an unlikely source: Wilson Valdez. Prior to this season, Valdez had played center field all of one game. That was a two inning stint when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers…back in 2007. The move, for the here and now, paid dividends last night. At least offensively it did.

On a nightly basis, Reds skipper Dusty Baker receives extreme criticism for his lineups. That criticism revolves around a theory that Baker is almost always prone to put certain players that are playing a certain position in a certain spot in the batting order. Well, last night Valdez, entering the game with a batting average of .211 in limited duty, was slotted in the 2-hole. Honestly, I don’t get it either, but, hey, I’m not the skipper.

In his first three ABs, Valdez had provided zero offense: ground out in the 1st, ground out in the 3rd and a line out in the 5th. His bat awoke just in time for the 7th…and the AB could not have been timed any better.

With a 4-1 score, Valdez approached the plate with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. Valdez took the second pitch from Mets reliever Jeremy Hefner and pulled it down the third base line plating Bronson Arroyo and Zack Cozart. A 4-1 game was now 6-1. Didn’t hurt that the infield was playing in either. The importance of that double? A five run lead always feels better than a three run lead. One swing cannot put the opponent ahead or even tie the game.

Would that ever prove to be important as in the top of the 7th, Arroyo allowed a two-run homer to Scott Hairston, cutting the Reds lead to 6-3. But Valdez was not done…

Harris? He was brought in to pinch-hit in the top of the 9th. Harris now has four hits on the season as he hit a ground-rule double down the left field line. Cozart got Harris to 3rd with a ground out and Valdez would pull through again. A sacrifice fly to center would plate Harris for a 7-3 Reds lead. One swing can now, at best, tie the game.

Um, that wouldn’t happen. Aroldis Chapman entered the game (even though it wasn’t a save situation) and needed 11 pitches (8 for strikes) to retire the Mets in order. And to the surprise of some, he didn’t throw all fastballs, 8 fastballs, 3 changeups. I’m starting to wonder what happened to his slider. Anyway, the last pitch of the game was a whiff and Chapman’s fastest of the game: 98.6 mph. One inning, two strikeouts. Game over. That’s the Chapman we’ve seen most of 2012.

No one will ever confuse Valdez for an everyday player, but this even greater positional flexibility could serve him and the Reds well for the remainder of 2012.

I just don’t want to see him on the mound…unless it’s like the 19th inning.

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds MLB New York Mets Wilson Valdez

  • JordanLeeBarhorst

    What’s the likelihood the Reds take a look at Manny Ramirez? It’s obvious we need an outfielder. Manny could (possibly? maybe?) be a positive influence on some of the younger guys in the clubhouse. His release from the A’s couldn’t have come at a better time for the Reds. I’m sure there are technically better options, and we’ve already got an aged, “good influence” player on the roster, but I don’t think Manny’s days of hitting are over. 

  • Steven Engbloom

     @JordanLeeBarhorst From a personal standpoint, I wouldn’t look his way.  I don’t think his bat is near what it once was. Prior to being released, he had not hit a home run  in 17 games in the PCL (drove in 14) and that league is known for hitters both average and power.
    Not sure how a guy that’s been busted twice for PEDs could be a positive influence in the clubhouse.  He does have playoff experience which makes me think the Reds may at the very least, kick the tires, but not very hard.  Then again, Walt could shock the snot out of me, too.

  • JordanLeeBarhorst

     @Steven Engbloom i completely agree that he isn’t the player he once was. but, like you said, it’ll be tempting to kick the tires. does he have the sought after playoff experience? yes. is he a big name that will draw more fans to the games (something the team desperately needs)? most definitely, yes. is he a risk? yes. would signing him be a shock to the fan base? you guessed it, yes. doesn’t it always seem like your favorite teams are the ones to make the questionable decisions? in a time when getting Carlos Quintin might seem like the reasonable answer to our problems, Manny definitely seems like the unreasonable answer.

  • Matt Gahris

     @JordanLeeBarhorst If the Reds do decide to look outside the organization for help, barring a big trade, I’d rather see them go after Marlon Byrd than Manny Ramirez. Manny would be a huge liability in the field. Byrd can play all three outfield positions and has a pretty solid career track record offensively. Best of all, he basically wouldn’t cost anything this year. He’s younger and much cheaper than Manny.

  • Steven Engbloom

     @JordanLeeBarhorst In regards to Manny’s bat, read this earlier today.