By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was a fun night of baseball over in Camden on Wednesday. The Atlantic League’s Riversharks swept a doubleheader from Long Island, winning both games in dramatic walk-off fashion.
In the middle of both winning rallies was none other than former Phillies’ fan favorite Wilson Valdez. Now the starting shortstop for the Riversharks, Valdez won the first game with an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th. He then walked in the midst of a 7th-inning rally (Atlantic League doubleheader games are scheduled to only go seven innings) and scored on D’Angelo Jimenez’s walk-off three-run bomb in the nightcap.
“It means a lot for us,” Valdez told KYW Newsradio after the game. “We’ve been kind of struggling. I think this is a time where we’re doing better on the field and hope everything goes well after here.”
Valdez spent two seasons with the Phillies (2010 and 2011), hitting .254 in 201 games.
“I had a very good time over there (with the Phillies),” Valdez says. “My best year in the Major Leagues was with the Phillies. I’m proud of myself (that) I became a good player with the Phillies.”
He also became a fan favorite, and in 2011 he earned a permanent spot in Phillies’ lore.
Few who saw it will ever forget May 25th of that season. After the Phils bullpen was exhausted, Valdez came in and threw a scoreless 19th inning in a game against the Reds, retiring Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in the process. The Phils scored in the bottom of the 19th, giving Valdez, who started the game at 2nd base, the victory.
“It’s something that I will tell my kids later when they grow up,” Valdez says. “It was a great moment for me.”
After that 2011 season, Valdez was traded by the Phillies to the Reds for left-hander Jeremy Horst. He spent the 2012 season with Cincinnati. He bounced around after that, the Marlins released him in May from their AAA team, and then Valdez says he ended up in Camden.
“I was ready to go home and they called,” Valdez says. “They wanted me to play here and I decided to come.”
Now 35-years old, Valdez is the everyday shortstop for the Riversharks. He’s hitting just .222, but he has nine steals, can still flash the leather and still has an arm that makes the throw from deep in the hole look effortless. He hopes it’s enough to catch a Major League organization’s eye.
“I’m trying (to get back to the bigs),” Valdez says. “If not, what am I going to do? I’ll try my best and see what happens.”
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.