New Orioles shortstop Freddy Galvis hopes to play some quality defense for his new team and provide some pop in a ballpark where he enjoys hitting. He also brings a career marked by durability and wants to show that to his new club as well.
From 2015 through 2019, he played in 151, 158, 162, 162 and 147 games. He had a consecutive games played streak of 349, then the longest in the majors, ending with Toronto on April 24, 2019.
“I think it’s really important,” Galvis said during a Zoom interview this afternoon. “I think it should be that way for every single player. For me especially, I love to be on the field. Every time I go to the field, I expect to put on my uniform, play and do my best. Like I always say, that is why I come from Venezuela to the USA, to play baseball. I came here when I was 16 years old and I came here to play. I love to go to the field and play every single day. Every day won’t be your best day and you won’t feel good every day you are out there, but the more times on the field, you just enjoy it. After 10 or 15 or 20 years, you can’t play anymore, but I like to be on the field every single day.”
Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias had plenty of praise for Galvis in the character department.
“He has an exemplary reputation as a human being, as a teammate and, most recently, as kind of a veteran mentor, so we’re looking forward to those contributions as well,” Elias said.
Now 31 and a veteran of four teams, nine seasons and 998 games, Galvis has served in a mentor role before.
“For me, that comes naturally,” he said. “I just like to talk about baseball and like to play the game and talk with my teammates. Many times, my teammates have been young guys. I really like it. It’s like a brother to me, you know what I mean? After I get to know those guys, I just try to help the guys get to the league. I just like to talk the game and help the young guys.”
Last season for Cincinnati, Galvis hit .220/.308/.404 over 47 games with seven homers, 16 RBIs and an OPS of .712. In the last full season of 2019, between Toronto and Cincinnati, Galvis batted .260/.296/.438 with 28 doubles, a triple, 23 homers, 70 RBIs and an OPS of .734. That year, he posted career highs in homers, RBIs and OPS.
In his first seven seasons, Galvis produced a combined slugging percentage of .374. But the last two seasons that number is .431 with 30 home runs over 748 plate appearances. Why did he show more pop?
“It’s hard to say, man,” Galvis said. “When I was young in Venezuela, I always loved to take ground balls. When we were practicing, I was at shortstop taking ground balls and I never paid attention to hitting a lot of baseballs. But I loved to take grounders and try to make crazy plays. Try to be like Omar Vizquel, something like that.
“Then when I came here to the USA, I started hitting and learning, little by little, how to hit and how to do my mechanics and everything. The last three or four years, I’ve worked really hard to fix my swing. I have a hitting coach here in Miami, Ricardo Soa, that helps me a lot and we’ve been working really hard on how to put good swings on the baseball and work with mechanics. After that, I took a different path with my offense. Had a season to hit over 20 homers. That is something I can do and I really love to do it. The last three of four years just worked really hard on my swing and offense.”
Galvis said he had chances to sign with other teams, but the chance to be a regular with the Orioles was important.
“I have the opportunity and I love to be on the field, and I had different opportunities with other teams,” he said. “Like a utility player or something like that and had an opportunity with Baltimore to play shortstop. I know some guys on the team. I know the situation with a lot of young guys. I did that before with the Blue Jays and with San Diego a little bit.
“So I’m kind of familiar with the situation and I love to play at Camden Yards, too. The division is kind of tough. There are a lot of good teams and you have to push yourself every single day. I see it as a good opportunity for me. Try to help the team, help the young guys and play good baseball.”
And enjoy hitting in his new ballpark. In the small sample of 34 career plate appearances there, he is a .300 hitter (9-for-30) with two doubles, two homers, five RBIs and a .930 OPS.
“It’s a good field. A good infield and a good place to hit and you play in a really good division. You have to play against the Yankees and Boston. It’s a big challenge and I love a challenge,” Galvis said.