Colorado Rockies: Pat Valaika gives an update on his injury
SCOTTSDALE – Pat Valaika is ready to get back on the field and contribute for the Colorado Rockies. However, he also knows that he has to make sure he is healthy enough before he returns.
The 25-year-old Valaika strained his left oblique early in camp and hit off the tee for the first time on Wednesday. He is progressing in his rehab, he told me in an exclusive interview on Thursday morning inside the Rockies clubhouse.
"“I’m feeling good. Getting better every day,” Valaika said. I’m getting to do ground balls and throwing and starting to hit a little bit.”"
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Valaika, one of Colorado’s biggest surprises last season thanks in part to his ability to deliver when needed in pinch-hitting situations, is trying to adjust to not being able to participate in camp as much as he wants. It’s a new feeling and one that he is not pleased to be going through.
"“I’ve, knock on wood, never been hurt before so this is new to me,” Valaika said. “I’m not enjoying it by any means but it’s what I have to do to get back on the field.”"
Dealing with something new like an injury has taken some time to get used to, but Valaika says he has been leaning on plenty of people inside the Colorado clubhouse for advice.
"“Lean on the trainers. They’re awesome and they’re doing everything they can to get me back as quick as possible and as safe as possible,” Valaika said. “I’ve been talking to other guys, including (Shawn) O’Malley.“He’s had a few injuries in his career so I’ve talked to him,” Valaika smiled."
The 26-year-old O’Malley, in his first camp with the Rockies, is not only competing with Valaika for potential playing time but the duo have also bonded. They locker next to each other and, with O’Malley suffering a broken hand, they are working through their injury frustrations together as well.
"“He’s a great dude,” Valaika said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to him. He was having a great spring and he’s a really good player.”"
Last season, Valaika posted a .325/.354/.636 slash line and .990 OPS in 81 games where he appeared off the bench. In pinch-hitting situations, he went .328/.344/.672 with a 1.017 OPS while smacking four homers and plating 16 runners. He also played five different positions and the Rockies are anxious to have his versatility and bat back in camp.
Next: David Dahl discusses his return and attitude this spring
However, there is no definitive timeline on his return. Valaika said it depends on “how he feels.” The original timeline was set at two to three weeks, which could put him back in action within the next week or two.