Valentin's future in Cincinnati up in air
As free agency looms, veteran prepares for uncertain future
CINCINNATI -- Like many soon-to-be free agents, Reds backup catcher Javier Valentin doesn't know what the tea leaves read for him next season.Valentin, who has been with the Reds since 2004, has not gotten any indications from the front office if efforts will be made to bring him back. "I haven't heard anything," Valentin said Monday morning. "I'd love to be here, but if not, it's fine. I'd like to come back, but I want to play too. I want a chance to play. It's what I'm looking for." A switch-hitter, Valentin has carved out a niche where he's mostly used in the late innings as a left-handed pinch-hitter. The 33-year-old came into the day batting .248 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. His 124 at-bats are the lowest total out of his five years in Cincinnati. Valentin, batting right-handed, struck out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter on Monday during the Reds' 7-5 win.
As a pinch-hitter, Valentin was batting .193 (11-for-57) with no homers and nine RBIs. However, in 17 games as a starter this season, he's batting .345 (20-for-58), and hit safely in 15 of those games. When he was given more playing time in the second half of last year by former manager Pete Mackanin, Valentin played well.Although the Reds' third catcher, Valentin has played more at first base this season. Behind the plate, his defensive skills and arm have been rated below average. Valentin is playing out the $1.35 million option this season, which was part of the contract extension he signed in Aug. 2006. But the option was picked up when the Reds' general manager was still Wayne Krivsky. Walt Jocketty now makes those decisions. "I know what I can do," Valentin said. "I can do more than what I'm doing right now. I think I can help someone out."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.