10/07/06 6:19 PM ET
Jose Valentin pregame interview
Second baseman talks about his turn around with the Mets
By / MLB.com
JOSE VALENTIN: Our approach is winning. We want to kind of pretty much just finish as soon as possible.
We know that it's not going to be easy. We are 2-0 ahead, but they're playing at home, they got the crowd behind them, it's a lot different. But our confidence is high. We know that at least we got one more chance. They have no chance for either if they lose today, they go home. So they have to be playing hard. They have to bring their A game because there's no tomorrow for them.
But we can't take it easy either. We just got to go out there and with the same approach that we took the first two games, and we got to we're facing a good pitcher today, Greg Maddux, but I think that we just got to go up there and score some runs early, put some pressure and make those guys use their bullpen early. That's our approach today.
When you look back to a year ago, when you were with the Dodgers and you had all those injuries, to where you are now, when you got the chance to play second base, a new position, what's going through your mind now? The way that you got a second lease with the Mets after a tough year last year.
JOSE VALENTIN: Well, the reason of what happened last year was because pretty much I got injured early in the year. I got a great start here last year. As a team we got a great start. And then all the problems, I mean guys got injuries, J.D. Drew and myself got injured, we got guys like Gagne went down again, Milton went down with the thumb injury. So we got a couple injuries in the club and a couple issues in the club with stuff like that that really were kind of difficult to bounce back from that.
And even with all those problems we were in the race until the end of the year. So that was something that just didn't happen in -- things that happen in baseball; guys get hurt. Some key players got hurt and that is not something that is on easy. LA was one of those teams last year with a lot of rookies on the lineup or on the roster, so it's something that was crazy. Plus the division was one of the craziest divisions ever that I played in baseball.
But this year, my start was one of the worst in my career. I started on the bench as a pinch hitter. 0-15 for my first 15 at-bats, and that was something that was difficult because I used to be an everyday player, so coming out of the bench for just one at bat late in the game was something that I wasn't used to do it. So it was something that is not easy. And it was at the point that I thought that my career was going to be over. So that was something that I was really -- disappointed for me, I was going crazy. I even thought that there was a point where I called my agent and I said, "You know what, I don't think that I'm going to be playing here too much, so why don't you call these people and tell them that, just let me go or just find a way to find a spot for me to get me some days or whatever, just get some at bats and see if I can get into the groove."
So it was like I was pretty much just done. And then we went to Milwaukee. It was a weekend, and we got a three-game series in there. The last game we faced two lefties, so I thought well, I'm never going to get a chance to play there. And then we went in on Saturday, he put me in the lineup, against a lefty. It was something that in my career I never hit lefties. I mean I'm a left handed hitter natural and my weak side is the right side. So he put me in hitting against a lefty and I had a great game. I had two hits with a home run. And so the next day I was back in the lineup against another lefty and in left field, and I went 4 for 5 that day. And since that day that was something that my chance came in, and it was something that I was looking for and I just took advantage of it. So here I am playing in the playoffs, second base with the New York Mets.
Did your agent ever make that call to Omar?
JOSE VALENTIN: Well, actually, yeah, he called. He said that, you know, he talked to Willie, he said that he was trying to he wants to play me there, but he was trying to find a spot at the time, the right time. So he knows that I can be valuable for that team, playing another position for him. I can play third, short, second and outfield. But he was trying to get the real good chance, a date or a spot where a guy needed a day off or whatever. It was kind of early in the year, which everybody was kind of fresh. And we were winning team and everybody was fresh. And we didn't have too many injuries.
There was a time that I think that Cliff was kind of sore with either a shoulder or something in his leg, and then with two lefties, the back to back day, so he decided to put me in left field that day. I mean that weekend against Milwaukee. It was something, it surprised me. I'm not used to playing against lefties, so it was something that I said, well, you know, this is it for me. So either go up there and make it worse or either go there and help the team to win. And I wasn't looking to get three or four hits a day, I was trying to get just do my job. Get a RBI, a clutch hit, move the guy over, just play the game the right way. So that just opened the eyes to Willie so he could say, well this kid is not done yet. He can be good for this team.
So -- and I did it, I got two great days on the weekend and then after that I think we went to St. Louis, played a game at second base there, and then we went back home, played the Yankees, I think it was the weekend series against the Yankees, and I was pretty much in the lineup, played a couple games at second, one game at left field. And just the time comes.
So like I said, it was something that I was hoping, I was waiting for that time to come and it was a situation that I said, well, this is my second chance, so I guess this is it. Either this is the time, if I don't take advantage of it, it probably won't come again. So I just got to go up there and do my job of showing that I can play, prove that I can still play. And that's what I did.
Have you thought about your plans for next season where you think you'll be and do you think you'll be back with the Mets?
JOSE VALENTIN: Well, definitely I want to play. We're all still playing baseball. I'm a free agent, so I don't have we, between my agent and the Mets and Omar, and I don't think they have got in contact about next year. But myself, I've been throwing some comments to Omar and he said that they counting on me. So I'm pretty sure that I can find a job. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be next year with the kind of year that I had. I have confidence in myself that I still got something left in me and I can be able to help somebody to win.
But I would love to stay in New York. With the type of team that we have, you know, great players, something that I think that what's going on here is going to be going for a lot of time, for a long time in New York. And I am having fun, having a great time. And I really feel comfortable. So I would love to stay there and next year come back and play for the New York Mets.
Are you planning to manage your winter ball team this winter?
JOSE VALENTIN: No. My plans are still to be a baseball player. Even though I own the team, but I would go in there to play winter ball again. But when, I don't know. Just depends how long the postseason goes. The season doesn't start until the beginning of November there, so I'll be in Puerto Rico before the season started, but I would like to get some rest first. But I will be in uniform for my own team at home.
But managing is in your future, didn't you say that?
JOSE VALENTIN: Definitely. I mean, I would like to stay in this game as a coach, as a manager, doesn't matter what situation. But manager and coaches are not in my mind yet. I think that I still got at least three or four years more as a player. But definitely, I would like to be a coach in my future.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.