It’s no secret that Terry Collins has given Jordany Valdespin an open audition in the outfield. Despite never viewing Valdespin as a traditional infielder, Collins always raved about his potential as a major leaguer. Throughout his minor league career, he showed flashes of bright talent. The knock on Valdespin has never about his talent and potential, but rather about his personality and whether or not he could buy into being a member of a team, instead of having all the attention on himself. During his professional career, reports have surfaced in the past, which question if his personality can be detrimental to a team’s clubhouse.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Valdespin broke proper dress code while with the team, and a group of veterans decided to take action and teach a lesson to the young 24-year-old rookie. As punishment his teammates reportedly shredded the t-shirt he wore — that broke team policy — and drew the words “El Hombre” on the back of the shirt, and “Valdy loves New York”.
During this season, fans have gotten a chance to see Valdespin display his talent. With the season winding down, reviews have been mixed, at least in my opinion. His most memorable moment came on May 7th, when he notched his first Major League hit in grand fashion, hitting a game-winning, pinch-hit homer against Phillies closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Besides breaking the Mets record for pinch-hit home runs — with five — Valdespin has failed to provide anything more for this current club. To say the very least, Valdespin has been in a slump since getting the opportunity to get more at-bats, after Collins decided to platoon Jason Bay. In his last 15 games, Valdespin is hitting only .185. What is even more troubling is the inexcusable careless effort he displayed on two separate occasions during last night’s horrendous 6-2 loss against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
There is no question Valdespin has the tools to become a solid major leaguer. He is extremely athletic and shows promise with his bat at times. For a person who is playing out of position in the outfield, he has shown the ability to cover a lot of ground. The question lies on whether or not Valdespin can mature and become more of a team player. Being a team player includes putting all of your effort out on the field. Furthermore, he needs to become more fundamentally sound and keep his mind in the game at all times. At the Major League level, opposing teams make adjustments to try and expose players’ weaknesses. This seems to have happened with Valdespin, but it is no excuse for his current struggles at the plate affecting his effort on the field. Say whatever you want about Jason Bay, but his yearly struggling did not prevent him from being an all-effort player defensively. Regardless of one’s talent, Major League players must make their own adjustments.
Will Valdespin ever combine his talent with the right attitude necessary to be a team player? Only time will tell. But it is absolutely inexcusable to watch a player not give it his all on the field. With only a little over a month left till the end of the season, Valdespin has a lot to prove to earn a spot on the 2013 roster. The opportunity is definitely there, as New York currently has holes in every position in the outfield. But the clock is definitely ticking for Valdespin to make the most out of the current opportunity Collins has presented him with.