There are a lot of players that Pat Valaika can learn from in his baseball life. After all, his brother is playing in the Chicago Cubs organization and has spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues. And sure, he utilizes his brother’s knowledge.
But one of the the people Valaika turns to most is Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
“Absolutely [he’s been a help]. He’s a great guy, very open about sharing his experiences,” Valaika said. “If I ever had any questions at third, I’d go directly to him. He’s the best third baseman in the game in my opinion. So just watching him work and the things he does, it’s pretty incredible. He’s an amazing player.”
Valaika, who made his major league debut last September, has now had a few different opportunities to work alongside Arenado. Joining him for two major league spring trainings as well as that month in the big leagues last season. The Isotopes utility man, who hit for the cycle last Saturday, is entering his third season playing third base, so the position is still fairly new to him, but his abilities still impressed Arenado.
“First of all, Pat Valaika was already good to start off,” Arenado said. “He's already a good player, he's already a good defensive player. We just talked about moving the feet, diving to get to balls and stuff like that, but he's already pretty good, he's got a pretty good knowledge of third base. He's a good fielder. He's a good ballplayer, and he's going to be up here soon.”
However, Arenado, keeping with his team first attitude, won’t take any of the credit for helping Valaika. Instead, he says he was just passing down information that was given to him by various coaches in the Rockies organization.
“I've been lucky to have a lot of people that have helped me out, so the stuff I teach people, it's not me, it's what people taught me,” Arenado continued. “I'll never take the credit. I always give thanks to the people that have taught me. Jerry Weinstein, Scotty Fletcher, Stu (Cole), all these guys taking care of me, hitting me ground balls. So, I'll give them the credit, whatever I teach (younger guys) is what they taught me."
As Arenado continues to pass the information he has learned, both from his coaches and on the field, to Rockies prospects such as Valaika, the team, and the players only stand to benefit.