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Valverde is NL Co-Player of Week
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06/23/2003  9:57 PM ET 
Valverde is NL Co-Player of Week
Right-hander already has seven saves
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Jose Valverde, who earned his seventh save on Sunday, points skyward on the final out. (Paul Connors/AP)
  • 2003 Player of the Week winners

    PHOENIX -- Jose Valverde has been called by a few different nicknames since he was promoted to the big leagues at the beginning of June.

    Now, you can call him the Co-Pepsi National League Player of the Week.

    The hard-throwing rookie shared the honor with Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis after a week that saw him appear in five games over five days, earning a win and four saves without allowing a run.

    Fans have been eager to tag the right-hander with a nickname after part-time D-Backs television analyst Jim Traber referred to the 6-foot-4, 254-pound Valverde as "Papa Grande" meaning to refer to him as "Big Daddy," but instead in Spanish it means "Big Potato."

    Some of his teammates have taken to calling him "Big Loco" for his animated antics on the mound. One thing's for sure, manager Bob Brenly would be going crazy if not for Valverde.

    Called up from Triple-A Tucson on June 1, Valverde has stepped in for injured closer Matt Mantei and converted all seven of his save opportunities while compiling a 1.80 ERA.

    Mantei will likely come off the DL in the next couple of weeks, but if Valverde keeps pitching the way he has, he's likely to be a setup man for Mantei.

    "Valverde has done a great job for us while he's been here," Brenly said. "When Mantei does return we'll see what the trickle-down effect is with the staff and figure out what we think is best for everybody. He's done a great job getting those last three outs for us and sometimes the biggest three outs are in the eighth. I'm not exactly sure what the situation is going to be when we get those guys back, but we'll figure it out."

    Valverde received a Tourneau luxury Swiss timepiece to commemorate the award.

    Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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