Q&A with Twins Rookie 3B Danny Valencia

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When Corey Koskie left the Twins as a free agent following the 2004 season, not even his biggest fan could have predicted he would be so difficult to replace. In the ensuing six years, Michael Cuddyer and Nick Punto have been given multiple - and ongoing - chances at the position, while Tony Batista, Mike Lamb, Brian Buscher, Joe Crede and Brendan Harris have received extended looks and Juan Castro, Glenn Williams, Luis Rodriguez, Jeff Cirillo, Matt Tolbert, Matt Macri, Howie Clark and Luke Hughes have all made starts at the hot corner.

The franchise’s best hope to end this carousel of futility is Danny Valencia. A 19th round pick out of the University of Miami in 2006, Valencia progressed up the minor league ladder, hitting .298 in 481 games before receiving a call-up on June 3. The 25-year-old hit the ground running in the big leagues and is currently hitting .314 with a .377 on-base-percentage.

I got a chance to meet the top prospect during the last homestand.

DZ: You’ve been up here a month and half – roughly – what are your impressions so far?

VALENCIA: It’s been great. The team is just a couple of games out of first place – that’s the most important thing. We are trying to win the division, can’t lose track of that. It’s been great for me; everyone has been very helpful, very open. You can pick people’s minds and stuff – it’s been a good learning experience. Winning is the main objective right now.

DZ: When you first got called up, where were you, how did you find out about it?

VALENCIA: I was in Triple A and they called me after a game and ever since then I’ve been up here. It’s been great so far.

DZ: Were you at the park still?

VALENCIA: I was at the park, they told me right after the game.

DZ: Who was the first person you called?

VALENCIA: My parents, obviously. First my mom, (I) told her, my dad and other friends and family.

DZ: When get called up how do you avoid putting too much pressure on yourself trying to impress everybody?

VALENCIA: You really just have to try to do what you do. You can’t be somebody else, I am who I am. I am not Albert Puljols, I am not going to go out there and try to hit homeruns every time. The main thing is to go out there and try to help the team win. Lately we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that. I think we are back on track and chasing the goal of winning the division.

DZ: The All Star break ended recently – your first in the big leagues – did you do anything special?

VALENCIA: I just went home, hung out relaxed with the family because it’s been a long season so far. It was nice to go home and relax for a couple of days, but at the same time, I couldn’t wait to come back to work and try and win the division.

DZ: You play a position that the Twins haven’t had a lot of stability in at the big league level. Is that your goal to establish yourself as the third baseman?

VALENCIA: Of course. Obviously you want to be an everyday play in the big leagues. You want to show them that you are person they can trust to do that. Hopefully I can do that and keep the job, we’ll see.

DZ: You played college ball with Ryan Braun; do you still talk to him quite a bit?

VALENCIA: Yeah, I saw him when we were in Milwaukee. I also played college ball with Chris Perez, who plays on this Cleveland Indians team. It’s nice to see old college teammates – it’s a fraternity over there so it’s been really great.

DZ: Do you guys do a lot of texting, that kind of thing?

VALENCIA: Yeah, texting, talk on the phone, whatever it is. We stay in contact.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:

July 11: Michael Cuddyer
July 8: Jason Repko
July 5: Nick Punto
June 12: Jason Kubel
June 9: Drew Butera
May 11: Denard Span
April 25: Justin Morneau
April 22: Alex Burnett
April 21: Mike Redmond
April 16: J.J. Hardy

2 Responses to “Q&A with Twins Rookie 3B Danny Valencia”

  1. Q&A with Twins Reliever Ron Mahay » MinnesotaSCORE Says:

    […] 21: Danny Valencia July 11: Michael Cuddyer July 8: Jason Repko July 5: Nick Punto June 12: Jason Kubel June 9: Drew […]

  2. Q&A with Twins Reliever Jesse Crain » MinnesotaSCORE Says:

    […] 23: Ron Mahay July 21: Danny Valencia July 11: Michael Cuddyer July 8: Jason Repko July 5: Nick Punto June 12: Jason Kubel June 9: Drew […]

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