Galvis isn't worrying about losing starting job on Phillies

BY AP • March 6, 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) Freddy Galvis provided power at the plate and played outstanding defense at shortstop yet critics won't let up and fans are eagerly waiting for prospect J.P. Crawford to take his spot.

The dreadlocked 27-year-old from Venezuela takes it all in stride. He's the oldest-tenured player on the Philadelphia Phillies and doesn't plan to go anywhere else.

''It's baseball, man,'' Galvis said. ''It is what it is. The only thing I have in my mind when I'm in the lineup is try to go play hard. I don't try to think of other stuff different than that. My mind-set is to work hard, play hard and try to help my team win.''

In his second full season replacing franchise icon Jimmy Rollins, Galvis batted .241 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 2016. His power numbers were a career-high and a surprise considering he had only 20 homers in 1,153 plate appearances from 2012-15.

But Galvis ranked last out of 146 qualified hitters in baseball with a .274 on-base percentage so sabermetricians harp on his inability to reach base.

If Galvis can be more patient at the plate, avoid swinging at bad pitches and improve on his 25 walks, he would be a more complete hitter.

But sometimes patience comes at a price. Taking more pitches and cutting his swing down could help Galvis reach base more but his power numbers also could suffer.

''I know I can hit the ball in the gaps but most of the time I was playing around with my swing, trying to do different stuff, trying to hit the ball in one direction, sometimes trying to go to left field, trying to put the ball in play or trying to stay on the ground,'' Galvis said. ''But I know I can hit the ball to the gaps and if you hit it good, next thing you now it's going to be a homer. It just took 20 good swings, and the ball went out of the park. But I feel like I have to focus on trying to hit the ball good and whatever happens, happens.''

Galvis hit 26 doubles, three triples and tied Maikel Franco for the team-high with 49 extra-base hits. He batted everywhere except cleanup in the lineup and is expected to start the season batting seventh. He's not an ideal 1-2 hitter because he doesn't get on base enough.

''If I hit after five, I'll try to knock in some runs and get on base,'' he said. ''If I hit first or second, I have to be on base for the other guys so it'll be a different approach but the main thing is always to try to hit the ball good and get a good at-bat.''

Rollins also heard plenty of criticism in Philadelphia, even though he was a three-time All-Star and the 2007 NL MVP. Rollins hit more than 20 homers four times, including 30 in his best season with 94 RBIs while batting leadoff. But he was ripped for not drawing enough walks.

''The situation is going to dictate how you approach the at-bat but most of the time you're only going to have one good pitch to hit and you never know if it's going to be the first pitch or the last pitch,'' Galvis said. ''So I'm going to try to focus on getting that one good pitch and swinging at it and letting the bad pitches go and get on base.''

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin considered Galvis' power a bonus because he's a superb fielder. Galvis led NL shortstops with a .987 fielding percentage and was a finalist for the Gold Glove winner.

General manager Matt Klentak said Galvis had a ''very, very positive'' season last year.

Still, Crawford waits to take his spot.

Crawford batted just .244 with a .328 on-base percentage in 87 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2016 and is slated to start the season there.

''I think he needs to go back and prove he's a better hitter than he showed,'' Mackanin said. ''He's got a lot of potential, a lot of ability.''


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