In five years Danny Valencia has bounced around with five different Major League Baseball organizations.
He is hoping his latest move to the Toronto Blue Jays is more than just a whistle stop.
The 29-year-old infielder joined the Blue Jays here on Tuesday and was in uniform, but not in the starting lineup, for Toronto’s game Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox.
The Blue Jays parted with two minor league players in Erik Kratz and Liam Hendriks in exchange.
Valencia, a right-handed bat who excels at hitting lefty pitchers, was obtained by the Blue Jays Monday night in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, a move that Valencia said caught him a bit off guard.
“We had something going good in Kansas City but happy to be on a team that’s also in a playoff race,” Valencia said shortly after he arrived at Fenway Park on Tuesday. “It’s always nice to play meaningful games as the year goes on and I’m really excited to be here.”
For Valencia, he must be getting used to moving around after breaking in with the Minnesota Twins in 2010 where he finished third in the American League rookie-of-the-year voting after hitting .311 in 85 games.
He played in 154 games with Minnesota in 2011 and the following year was dealt to the Boston Red Sox in August.
At the end of the 2012 season, Valencia was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles and played with the Orioles in 2013 before he was traded last December to the Royals.
“The first trade was definitely the toughest to understand because you’re being traded from the organization you came up with,” Valencia said. “I’ve been a little surprised to move around as much as I have. Obviously everybody wants to stay in one spot and really dig down some roots in one particular place. I’m hoping Toronto is that spot.
“I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of great places, played for some good teams, and I’m really looking forward to this experience.”
Valencia has established himself as a good hitter against left-handed pitchers, a role that Toronto manager John Gibbons said he plans to try to take advantage of.
Over his career, Valencia has a .333 average against southpaws with a .227 mark against righthanders.
This season in Kansas City, platooning at third base with Mike Moustakas, Valencia was hitting .282 with a .354/.178 lefty-righty split.
“He’ll be in there against lefthanders,” Gibbons said. “I’m sure there’ll be some righties he faces too. But he’s always hit lefties. He can play either corner spot there, DH – whatever.”
Valencia has primarily played at third, seeing action there in 304 games over five seasons with six at second base. He has never played a game at the Major League level at first.
“I feel fine over there,” he said. “I’ve played some games at first base before, in the minor leagues I’ve played first base, in college I’ve played first base.
“I tell you what, I would feel more comfortable maybe playing shortstop than I would playing first base.”
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