New Royals third baseman Danny Valencia won’t be at FanFest this weekend (he has a prior commitment), but I chatted with him on Monday.
Valencia made his major-league debut with the Twins in 2010 and he was with Minnesota until being traded in 2012. He was dealt to Baltimore after the 2012 season, and last year was mainly a designated hitter for the Orioles (he was DH in 42 of his 48 games and played third base the other six games).
We talked about a variety of subjects, including his first career home run, which was a grand slam against the Royals’ Zack Greinke, and his hitting prowess against Rays’ left-hander David Price (Valencia has a career .750 average against Price — nine for 12).
•Did the Royals tell you anything in particularly after the trade?
“When I first heard from Dayton (Moore, the Royals general manager), he told me, ‘We always liked the way you played, we definitely can use your bat, you’re going to get playing time.’ Obviously, with Billy Butler there, I’m expecting to play in the field because I won’t DH at all. That was pretty much the extent of it all.”
•What do you know of the Royals?
“I played against them a bunch when I was with Minnesota. I know they were very young when I played against them, and now it seems the young talent is really meshing well together and they have a group of guys, a good core of guys, very similar to what Baltimore had. It’s definitely an exciting team.”
•What do you think of Kansas City? Did you get to go out much when you were with a visiting team?
“I’ve always enjoying going to Kansas City. As a player, we stayed on the Plaza. There’s nothing but nice things to say about it. They have nice restaurants there, they have a nice bit of shopping, it’s a really nice Midwest city and I always really, really enjoyed going there.”
•What can you say about that first career home run?
“It’s funny, because at the time, before I got called up, I hadn’t hit a home run at Triple-A (Rochester) before that grand slam against Greinke. So it was kind of weird. It was in July, I think, when I did it, and I almost forgot what it was like to hit a home run. But it’s something I’ll never forget. It’s one of my better baseball moments that I’ll cherish.”
•Do you remember what Greinke threw you?
“I want to say it was a 3-2 fastball.”
•The Royals will be your fourth team in three years. Are there any challenges to switching organizations that frequently?
“I don’t really count my Boston experience (10 games in 2012) as feeling like I was part of the team. I was there for such a short period of time, only a month. It’s definitely different, because you have to meet the guys again and establish these relationships and to some extent you feel a little weird at first. But then you realize that all the guys are very similar and we all have the same goals in mind, so it’s not that tough. But it’s definitely cool to live in different places and play on different teams and be part of different organizations.”
•You’ve played for Ron Gardenhire, Bobby Valentine and Buck Showalter. Can you share any secrets about those managers?
“Those guys are or were at their positions for a reason. I’ve enjoyed playing for all the managers I’ve played for. I’ve been fortunate enough to play for guys I’ve really respected. Playing for Buck Showalter, I’ve never met a manager who is more prepared than him. It’s definitely nice knowing that you had a manager who is going to put you in the position to be successful. That’s pretty nice to see as a player, that’s for sure.”
•Finally, what’s your secret for hitting David Price?
“It’s funny, I get asked that a bunch. But there isn’t a reason for that. I always say who says that the next time I face him that he isn’t going to strike me out three times? I’ve been fortunate to get some good pitches to hit and even more fortunate to hit some of those balls, and some of those balls find some holes. It’s just one of those things. Some guys who maybe don’t have as good stuff as David Price get me out a lot easier than a guy who has really good stuff. You see the ball better maybe. But there’s only one way to go and we both know the answer to that one.”