Valdez gives hat tip to Pedro for success

September 5th, 2020

BOSTON -- Now with his sixth organization in 12 seasons as a pro, is finally getting the chance to show his stuff.

What took so long for the 28-year-old to bloom?

Part of it was finding a team that believed in him, which the Red Sox have since they claimed him off waivers from the Mariners on Feb. 23. Part of it is that Valdez has gained more confidence through the years. And the biggest reason for his breakout is that Valdez has become fearless.

“I think it just goes with the hard work I’ve been putting in year in and year out,” Valdez said. “I think the team just realized that I’m just fearless. When I’m pitching, I’m not afraid of anybody. I go after hitters, and I’m just an aggressive pitcher when I’m on the mound. I think that’s something that’s helped me a lot is the fact that I’m not afraid of anything.”

Since the Aug. 21 trade of Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies, Valdez is one of the precious few who has the complete confidence of manager Ron Roenicke.

Before having his first true mishap of the season on Thursday night against the Blue Jays, Valdez had sported a 0.86 ERA in 14 outings. And even after giving up four runs (three earned) in the 10th inning of a loss against the Jays two nights ago, Valdez still has an impressive 2.05 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Valdez got his first chance to pitch in the Majors last year with the Rangers, notching a 3.94 ERA in 11 outings that covered 16 innings. The Rangers weren’t impressed enough to protect him, and the Mariners claimed him off waivers. Valdez never got into an exhibition game for Seattle in Spring Training before the Red Sox claimed him off waivers.

“Last year, when I was pitching, there would be times when I wouldn’t throw with too much conviction with my pitches,” Valdez said. “I was a bit nervous when I was on the mound. This year, I just have a bit more confidence in the pitches I’ve been throwing and just pitching in the spots where I want to pitch them at -- which is all about, like I said, just having the confidence to do so.”

Valdez’s calling card is his changeup, which he has thrown more than 50% of the time this season, and it might not surprise you that the Dominican native cites a Red Sox legend for his handle of that pitch.

“So growing up when I was a kid, when the Yankees faced Boston, that was a big deal, especially when would pitch,” Valdez said. “And even when I was in the lower levels coming up, I would always watch his videos just to see like how he would pitch. And I feel like his changeup, the way that I throw it, with a similar arm slot, is similar, and the movement is how I feel like he would throw it. That’s something I really practiced on, and that’s something I really wanted to perfect.”

Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
Saturday was MLB’s fifth annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, and the Red Sox did their part before and during their home game against the Blue Jays.

The cutouts behind home plate during the game were Jimmy Fund patients, families and nurses.

The ceremonial first pitch -- done virtually this year -- and the play-ball announcement were performed by a Jimmy Fund patient and sibling. The Red Sox also put together a collage to be used on their social media accounts.

All on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires, wore gold ribbon decals and wristbands during the game.

Eovaldi plan
What is the plan for righty starter , who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 20 because a right calf strain?

“Really good today with catch,” Roenicke said. “He has a bullpen tomorrow, and if that bullpen goes perfect -- we don’t want him to feel anything -- so if it goes really well, then we’ll think about like an up-and-down bullpen maybe in Philadelphia.”

Darwinzon’s progress
The Red Sox are pleased with the way is progressing after placing the power lefty on the IL on Monday with a sprained SC joint (linking the clavicle to the sternum). Hernandez is eligible to be activated for the four-game series at Tropicana Field that starts on Thursday.