PEORIA, Ariz. -- Freddy Galvis had heard the name "Jose Pirela" several times before they first met at a big league tryout outside Valencia, Venezuela.They were 16 at the time and lining up for a 60-yard dash when Galvis heard his own name announced along with Pirela's. He rolled his
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Freddy Galvis had heard the name "Jose Pirela" several times before they first met at a big league tryout outside Valencia, Venezuela.
They were 16 at the time and lining up for a 60-yard dash when Galvis heard his own name announced along with Pirela's. He rolled his eyes.
"I was like, 'Wow, this guy's going to crush me,'" Galvis said. "When you're trying out, you hear different names. I heard, 'Jose Pirela, this guy's good, this guy can run.' So I thought, 'Wow, why am I getting put with Jose Pirela to run?' That was the first time I met him. We start running, and he just took off past me."
A dozen years later, Pirela and Galvis are back together. In Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Giants, they manned the middle infield together. Pirela went 2-for-3 with a homer, bringing his spring average to .481. Galvis went 1-for-3 and is hitting .400. Going forward, it's likely that Pirela plays left field primarily, but he figures to platoon at second base against certain left-handed pitchers.
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Since that fateful first tryout, the two have played plenty of Winter Ball together, first as teammates with Aguilas de Zulia, then as opponents. They've developed a close relationship, as have their families. Pirela's wife is the godmother of Galvis' daughter.
"We are like brothers," Galvis said.
In San Diego, however, they've begun using a new term for each other: "compadres." (Fitting, of course, given the team's nickname.)
"I heard the news, 'You got traded,' and I started to think about going to a new team," said Galvis, who had spent his entire career with the Phillies. "My brother was next to me, and he said, 'Hey, you're going to be with Pirela now.' I said, 'Oh, that's right!' Then I knew it was going to be a good thing. For me, having him, it's become easier to adapt to the new team."
As ballplayers, Pirela and Galvis could not be more different. Galvis is a nimble 5-foot-9 shortstop with quick hands and an impressive defensive skill set. At the plate, he's a feisty switch-hitter without much pop.
Pirela, meanwhile, has never been known for his defense. (He's solid in left, but somewhat graceless at second base.) He is a muscular 6-foot slugger with a ferocious right-handed swing and a brazen approach at the plate and on the basepaths.
Both players have always carried incredible respect for the other's skill set. Galvis reminisced about being overwhelmed by Pirela in a sprint. But Pirela told a similar tale of taking grounders at shortstop next to Galvis on that very same day.
"We were at the same position then," Pirela said. "But obviously he's a phenom. I've always considered him a phenom since [I saw him for the first time]. He's someone whose career I've followed and continue to follow. And he's someone who, not just as a baseball player but as a person, is someone I look up to and consider special."
The first time they played together for the Padres came on Feb. 27 against Seattle. In the first inning of that game, Pirela fielded a grounder at double-play depth and tried an ill-advised sidearm flip from about 40 feet away. It short-hopped Galvis, who managed to make a smooth pick and, without breaking stride, fired to first for the double play.
Pirela walked in the next inning and smacked an RBI double two innings later. It seemed the perfect encapsulation of what the "compadres" will bring to the Padres this season.
"Freddy's a stabilizing presence for us, an anchor in the infield that we haven't had over the past couple years," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Pirela has energy, life, he plays hard, plays the way you want everybody to play."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.