Chris Valaika is heating up at just the right time. After a rough start to spring training, Valaika is finding his swing down the stretch. The utility infielder is fighting for the Marlins' reserve middle infield spot, the first time he's truly been in the mix to make an opening day roster in the majors. Since March 18, he has gone 6-for-12 with 5 RBI. "I felt good at the plate earlier on in the spring, but things just weren't falling," Valaika said. "Getting closer to the season, I feel like things are coming on a little bit more and are more consistent." Marlins manager Mike Redmond has taken note of the hot streak. "He's doing well. I know you look at the numbers and his batting average is low, but I look at more quality of bats, how he hits the ball and how he approaches himself at the plate," Redmond said. "He has been solid all spring." Batting .242 for the spring, Valaika's recent upswing has put him on the cusp of making Miami's roster, or at least being in the conversation. Valaika, 27, is battling with Nick Green, Matt Downs and the newly added Wilson Valdez. "It's still a decision we have to make, but I like what [Valaika] has done," Redmond said. Valaika (5-11, 210) signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins in November. His prior MLB experience is limited to several call-ups with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010-11. There, he spent most of his time at the Triple-A level.
Valaika finishing strong in bid for Marlins' bench job
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 25