View Full Version : Jose

02-25-2002, 03:58 AM
TUCSON, Ariz. - Jose Valentin was sitting behind a table at SoxFest a few weeks ago when a fan asked him to reprise one of the season highlights of 2001.

Valentin happily obliged, putting two fingers to his lips and kissing the air, imitating the Sammy Sosa home run gesture that upset so many Cubs fans last summer when Valentin performed it at Wrigley Field.

Naturally, Valentin received a long and loud ovation from White Sox fans, along with some requests to give a repeat showing this year at Wrigley.

But even while Sox manager Jerry Manuel is asking his players to show more emotion on the field, Valentin isn't sure he'll do the Sosa kiss again, even if he homers against the Cubs.

"I don't know," he said. "It was my reaction, something that just happened. I enjoy the game, and that's the way I play.

"Maybe I'll do something else this year, try not to get so many people mad at me. I didn't try to do it in a bad way. A big point they all forgot was the guy said he didn't care that I did it."

Valentin was one of the main reasons the Sox won the division title in 2000. But the failed experiment to try him in center field began the roulette wheel of lineup changes that epitomized the lost season.

The acquisition of Royce Clayton left Valentin without a position, so he rotated among shortstop, center and third base, creating a domino effect of disgruntlement.

It wasn't until Valentin experienced hamstring problems that they left him at third, after which Clayton and center fielder Chris Singleton began to emerge from their early season slumps.

Still, Valentin hit only .225 as a third baseman last year, as opposed to a .312 average at short. Learning a new position may have had an adverse effect on his offense, though he enters 2002 knowing he'll be the full-time third baseman.

"I think I'm going to be able to concentrate more because I won't have to worry about going different places to work every day," Valentin said. "In my mind, every time I went to the park last year I was wondering where I'd play—third, short or center? Now I'm going in knowing it'll be third every day, so it's less work.

"Third base is more of a reactionary position, where you only have to worry about one side, the left side, because basically you're playing the line. The angle is a lot different, because at short you have everything in front of you, a perfect angle to every base. Now you have a pitcher in the way, you have to throw across the mound, you have to worry about bunting, swinging bunts, whether to charge or not. It's not going to be easy, but at least I've got a feeling for it now."

Valentin committed 13 errors at third in 66 games there after playing the position only twice previously in his career. The Sox need Valentin to make most of the routine plays, since Clayton is virtually spotless playing beside him.

"I have no doubt he'll perform well enough for us to compete for a championship," Manuel said. "If you watched Jose play shortstop, he's better as a lateral guy. Historically, his errors came when he's sitting back on balls. At third you're more concerned with going to your left and right. Hopefully he'll develop a sense of confidence and comfort there.

"Jose will do anything we ask. The only thing we ask this year is to take us to a championship."

Valentin may have been too accommodating last year. Playing center may have led to his hamstring injury, since he wasn't used to so much running. But Valentin doesn't blame Sox management for the short-lived experiement.

"I put myself in that position," he said. "They didn't make me do it. They asked me if I could do it and I said, 'Yeah.' This year I've changed my mind. If they need me in case of emergency, I'm glad to do it because I'm a team player. But hopefully it doesn't happen again."

02-25-2002, 06:10 AM
Just trade the ******* at SS and put Jose where he's comfortable.

"Yeah really!"

02-25-2002, 09:33 AM
It's been said before but I'll say it again. Crede not playing winter ball has nothing to do with him, more than likely, not making the team. The "teamplayer" Choice Clayton is THE reason Crede will likely start this season in the minors and Valentin will be playing out of position. If you can't trade Choice, I say cut him and eat the $$$$$ loss.