Pat Valaika's playing many roles for 2020 Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Pat Valaika’s playing many roles for 2020 Orioles

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—The Orioles’ acquisition of Pat Valaika over the winter wasn’t a headline-making deal. However, it’s turned out to be a good move for the team.

Valaika, who had the first four-hit game of his career on Tuesday night, has played in 32 of the Orioles’ 36 games. Only Anthony Santander (36), Renato Núñez (35) and Hanser Alberto (34) have played more.

Valaika has started games at second base, shortstop, third base and left field and filled in at first base, too.

“Speaking wih [manager Brandon] Hyde before the season and during spring, he wanted to try to get me in there as much as he could,” Valaika said in a video conference call.

“It’s definitely nice getting in there, playing a lot and getting at-bats. I’ve had years where I’ve kind of just been a pinch-hitter. It’s tough. You just take care of the day-by-day, and you hope to see your name in the lineup.”

Valaika, who turns 28 on September 9th, continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-3 with a walk in the Orioles’ 9-4 loss to the Mets on Thursday, and is hitting .289. For the last two days, Valaika started at second base in place of Alberto, who is out because of a sore knee.

“It’s always nice to get into a rhythm,” Valaika said. “Expect to have four at-bats in a game. It’s nice to just compound those at-bats, and it gets you in a groove. In years prior, my at-bats had been sporadic. You do the best you can with whatever situation you’re given. That’s how I’ve always done it.”

Valaika spent the previous four seasons with the Colorado Rockies. His best season came in 2017 when he played in 110 games, hit .258 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs.

Last season, Valaika spent much of the season with the Rockies’ Triple-A Albuquerque team and hit .320 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs. In 40 games with Colorado, he hit just .190.

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After the season, the Rockies waived him, and the Orioles claimed him on October 30th.

He was waived by the Orioles to make room for another infielder, Richard Ureña, who wasn’t included in the 60-man player pool, claimed by the Arizona Diamondbacks on January 18th, and reclaimed on January 30th.

On February 11th, Valaika was outrighted by the Orioles when they claimed yet another infielder, Ramón Urias, who was with the team briefly last month.

Valaika made the team on a minor league contract, and it’s worked out well.

“It’s been great. I like our team,” Valaika said. “I know we’re in a rebuild, but the guys in that locker room, we all have the same goal, and that’s to win every night.

“We’re never going out there thinking we’re overmatched or anything. I love our lineup and our pitching staff. When we all contribute together, we’re pretty good. I think we might surprise some people.”

Valaika probably will spend today with his 10-month old daughter, whom he doesn’t see enough during the season.

“Days off are nice,” he said. “Day games are even nice when you get a few hours to feel like a normal human being.”

Valaika wears No. 74, a number that’s high for a player in his fifth major league season.

“It was funny. When I got here, they just gave me that number,” Valaika said. “It was actually my debut number with the Rockies. My intention was to switch it, but I started off not too bad, and I was, like ‘You know what, I’m just going to roll with it,’—74 it is.”

The Streak anniversary: The a Orioles will mark the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken’s record for most consecutive games played on Sunday.

Ripken will throw a first pitch to his son, Ryan, an Orioles minor leaguer, in a spot that was previously recorded at Oriole Park. It will be shown at various ballparks around baseball.

Orioles uniformed personnel will wear a patch commemorating 2131 on Sunday.

Question time: I’ll be answering Orioles questions next week, and if you have one, please leave it in the comments section or send it to: [email protected].

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. B.C. Bird

    September 3, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Thanks for the nice story Rich. Too often players like Valaika get lost in the shuffle, they come and go and then you never see them again. I often think that with the right circumstances some of these guys may have developed into regular position players but the timing never worked in their favour, Mason Williams perhaps. It is easy to sit back from afar and judge who is good and who is bad but today you remind us they are ordinary guys trying to make a living
    Keep the faith

  2. musicmanjr

    September 3, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Nice jack-of-all-trades player. Every team needs a guy like Valaika. Sort of reminds me of the role Steve Pearce played for the O’s (and the rest of the American League East teams).

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 3, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Slash Valaika. Has a ring to it. My guess is that if there were fans in the stands, he’d be hearing cheers as one of those underdog-type fan favorites.

  4. CalsPals

    September 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Just like to see him in a number like he’ll be around for awhile, don’t think he was a lineman or anything, maybe it’s his favorite #…like for him to stick around…go O’s…

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 3, 2020 at 11:44 am

      I don’t mind the lineman numbers and would prefer to see guys in more varied digits. MLB orthodoxy with number assignments is a bit silly. I was openly disappointed when Mancini went to 16 from his first years 67. I like the NHL model, where a superstar wears 99, 97, 66 etc and noone bats an eye.

    • CalsPals

      September 3, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      He kinda looks like a hockey player too…lol…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 3, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      I’d like to see him stick around as well, but in a much more limited role. Didn’t Rich say he was 3rd or 4th on the team in games played? We need to get the team talent level to the point where the Valaikas of the world serve more in a pinch hitting/def. replacement role while starting only a game or 2 week. Right now, he’s an every day player, and this one of the reason’s the O’s aren’t a contender.

  5. WorldlyView

    September 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    One of the things that fascinates me about baseball is Valaika’s story. Here was a marginalized player, waived three times just this year, who easily could have packed it in. Instead, he persisted and improbably has displayed an above average ability to hit major league pitching. I hope he keeps it up.

  6. spwagner44

    September 3, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    I always thought Jim catfish Connor had a very good voice on TV. Hunter always looked into the camera for too long while the other analyst was talking, which I thought was kind of creepy. But hunters voice was excellent on TV. Will he be back in Baltimore on TV?

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