VIERA, Fla. -- Two days after Justin Verlander struck Jordany Valdespin in the groin with a 94-mph fastball, the Mets held their utility player out of the lineup for a routine day of rest. Valdespin learned his lesson the hard way, he said, and planned to wear protection under his uniform in the future.
"I never use a cup, but I've got to use it because I'm really scared of the ball hitting me," Valdespin said. "All positions I have to use it, because you never know. The ball can take a bad hop and hit me again, so I don't want to get into trouble."
Mets manager Terry Collins was mystified to learn that Valdespin, a natural infielder, was unprotected when he squared to bunt against Verlander during Monday's game. Valdespin said he has never worn a cup throughout his baseball career, even as a child in the Dominican Republic.
That will change now, despite the fact that Valdespin figures to see most of his playing time in the outfield, where players typically do not wear cups. Batting .370 this spring, Valdespin has transformed from a fringe option to a leading candidate to crack the Opening Day roster.