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Valaika with the Chicago Cubs
August 14, 1985 |
Santa Monica, California
|August 24, 2010, for the Cincinnati Reds|
(through 2014 season)
|Runs batted in||24|
|Representing United States|
|World University Baseball Championship|
|2004 Tainan||National team|
Christopher Andrew Valaika (born August 14, 1985) is an American professional baseball infielder. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. He has since become a hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs rookie league team.
Before professional baseball
Born to father Jeffrey Valaika and mother Ilona, Chris Valaika is the oldest son of 5 children. He is an American of Lithuanian descent. Valaika attended Hart High School in Santa Clarita, CA, and also attended college at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He was a member of the U.S. National Team, and won the silver medal at the U-18 Pan Am Cup in Curacao-Antilles and the gold medal at the 2004 World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan.
The Cincinnati Reds drafted Valaika in the third round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and he started his pro career with the rookie class Billings Mustangs. Chris hit .324 with 22 doubles and eight home runs with the Mustangs, and led the Pioneer League in total bases (143)and hits (89); was second in runs scored (58), RBI (60), and games played (70); and third in extra-base hits (34) and at-bats (275). He compiled a Pioneer League record 32-game hit streak, longest in the Minor Leagues in 2006.
Valaika started 2007 with the low A Dayton Dragons, where he had two 11-game hit streaks. He was Reds' Minor League player of the month for April. His play earned him the starting shortstop for the East Division in the Midwest League All-Star game, as well as a spot on the ML's postseason All-Star team. He was promoted to high-A Sarasota on July 4, where he batted .253 with two home runs and 23 RBI in 57 games.
Valaika spent 2008 with Sarasota and the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts. In a combined 129 games, he batted .317 with 18 HR, 82 RBI, and nine stolen bases. He led all Reds minor leaguers in average and was second in RBI. His performance once again earned him Reds' Minor League player of the month for April. He played for the U.S. in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game, and was a mid-season Florida State League All-Star. He had an 18-game hit streak, which was second longest in the Southern League. Valaika received the Chief Bender Award for Reds' Minor League Player of the Year in 2008.
Valaika made his Major League debut on August 24, 2010. In his first career at-bat, Valaika got his first Major League hit - a single off of Santiago Casilla - on the first pitch he saw.
Valaika was also called up for a brief stint with the Reds in 2011 to fill in for the injured Rolen.
In 2013, Valaika was one of several Miami Marlins players verbally assaulted by hitting coach Tino Martinez, resulting in Martinez's resignation. When the organization considered promoting Valaika to the majors in August when Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list, Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria, who hand picked Martinez, vetoed the transaction, and the team promoted Gil Velasquez instead. With the New Orleans Zephyrs, he hit .235, with 7 doubles, 4 homers, 15 RBIs, and 1 stolen base. Before his wrist injury, he played 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and shortstop for the Marlins. He hit .219, with 5 doubles, 1 homer, 9 RBIs, and no stolen bases when he was up with the Marlins.
He became a free agent on October 1, 2013.
On November 17, 2013, Valaika agreed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training with the Chicago Cubs. Valaika would add depth to third base along with minor-league invitee Mat Gamel.
On August 1, 2014, Valaika was called up to the Cubs in the wake of the team trading Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell to the Atlanta Braves. On August 20, 2014, Valaika hit his first home run as a member of the Chicago Cubs. After the season he was outrighted off the roster. He re-signed with the Cubs after the season.
- "Reds make moves, fill out roster | reds.com: News". Cincinnati.reds.mlb.com. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- Spencer, Clark. "Miami Marlins roster move considered a rebuke of Chris Valaika - Miami Marlins". MiamiHerald.com. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- October 2013 minor league transactions