Valdespin brings excitement, passion to Mets

Valdespin brings excitement, passion to Mets

Valdespin brings excitement, passion to Mets
NEW YORK -- Jordany Valdespin wasn't trying to make enemies when he vivaciously trotted around the bases after his pinch-hit ninth-inning home run on Friday night. In fact, it was just the opposite.

What some might have considered flaunting or showboating was actually waving. The 24-year-old's mother traveled from the Dominican Republic to watch her son play underneath the lights at Citi Field for the first time.

"That's my personality, you know?" Valdespin said. "I hit the ball and be happy. My mother was in the stands, and I wanted to say hello to my mother."

But Friday wasn't the first incident where Valdespin's excitement has become apparently visible. Mets manager Terry Collins understands that's a part of his game, and it's a big reason why he can't keep him out of the lineup. Valdespin arrived at the ballpark on Saturday and found his name penciled in at sixth in the order and starting in left field for the second game of the team's series against the Cubs. In his first at-bat in the second inning, Valdespin launched a solo homer to nearly the exact same spot in right-center as his shot on Friday night.

"He plays with flare, so sometimes that bothers players on the other team," Collins said. "If it causes them to get out of their game plan, then it's successful the way he plays. He does love to be on the stage, and right now, we're going to see today what he can bring to us."

Valdespin was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo on June 24 to clear space for Ruben Tejada's return to the Mets' 25-man roster, but he did everything in his power to prove he belonged back at the Major League level. He talked with Buffalo manager Wally Backman about staying focused, and Valdespin responded by going 10-for-31 (.323) with a home run and four RBIs in the seven games he played before getting recalled.

Collins said he decided to play Valdespin on Saturday because of the difficult matchup he could present to Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija. With second baseman Daniel Murphy swinging the bat well, Valdespin played away from his natural position and manned the outfield, something he might have to get used to. Collins already has Valdespin taking fly balls and doing regular outfield work every day during batting practice.

"He brings a lot of things," Collins said. "Besides his bat, his foot speed -- he can steal a base. We talked about trying to get him some at-bats to try to get a better gauge on him."

This is a good week to do that, as Valdespin's mother will be staying in Manhattan for the remainder of the homestand.