DENVER—The Colorado Rockies forwent their nine-man bullpen on Saturday, optioning the recently called-up right-hadned reliever Yency Almonte to Triple-A Albuquerque. The corresponding roster move was to recall infielder Pat Valaika.
The 25-year-old will be making his third stint on the Rockies’ active roster this season. He was sent down on May 26. Since he has batted .211 for Triple-A Albuquerque with eight runs, two doubles, one triple, five home runs, 15 RBI, five walks and 17 strikeouts.
"“Pat is swinging the bat better,” Bud Black said. “He had a tough sprinting training after injuring the oblique. Then he got off to a rough start. He got near 60 at bats in Triple-A. He’s going to be a contributor at sometime this season, hopefully it’s today. In the second half of the season, Pat and some other guys are going to make big contributions.”"
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In the bigs in 2018, Valaika is hitting .120 with a .185 on-base percentage and a even worse .173. Combined, that is a .359 OPS+. His OPS+ was also -8. He has two runs scored, four doubles, one RBI, six walks, and 22 strikeouts across 37 games which has included 16 starts.
Valaika has bounced from his normal middle infield spot to more first base this season and with three catchers on the roster currently, he most likely will back up each of the four infield spots. Valaika has also made appearances in left field at times for the Rockies over the past two seasons.
Over the past two years, the native Californian has hit .221 (61-for-276) with 33 runs scored, 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 43 RBI. He had a propensity for the big hit in 2017, particularly as a pinch hitter where he excelled.
The 24-year-old Almonte made his big league debut out of the bullpen on Thursday locking down a Rockies win in a big spot. He pitched back to back days on Friday as well.
On the season, Almonte in Triple-A Albuquerque is 1-4 with a 6.27 ERA. He went 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA split between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque in 113 1/3 innings pitched.
He’s a starter by trade (and he has made nine starts in Albuquerque thus far in 2018 and he has made 101 starts in 109 appearances in the minor leagues) and Black says that he will rejoin the Isotopes rotation in the coming days.