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September 08, 2017

The Q&A ... with Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis

Freddy Galvis was not in the Phillies lineup on Friday night in Washington and it was newsworthy only because, if there has been any consistency with the Phillies in the last three seasons, it’s been the presence of their slick-fielding shortstop on a nightly basis.

Since the beginning of last June, Galvis had started 242 of the last 247 games the Phillies had played before Friday. He had started all 140 games this season (139 at shortstop, one in center field), and actually had a goal entering the season of starting all 162 games on the Phillies schedule.

It wasn’t a goal Galvis announced in spring training as some kind of “I’m the shortstop, prospects be damned” proclamation. It was something he said to Pete Mackanin in private early on in the season, when Mackanin was seeing if his shortstop needed a day off, and then something the manager shared with the media in early July, when Galvis skipped sleep on the night his second daughter was born, and decided against his right to a paternity leave, too, so he could be in the lineup with his teammates.

[Galvis had plenty of family in town during the week, planning ahead to make sure his wife and two girls would have plenty of support.]

Galvis homered in the first inning of the game at Citizens Bank Park that night, as one does. The Phillies won the game.

We've somehow made it more than 200 words into a Freddy Galvis story without talking about his defense.

Galvis’ glove work, quite simply, has been the best thing to watch at Citizens Bank Park for two years now. He's among the best in all of baseball at the position where teams put their best defensive players. You can talk to coaches, managers, and players, you can look at standard and advanced stats, but no matter what you do, you’ll see and hear Galvis’ name right there with the best defensive shortstops in baseball.

Having had the chance to work with both of the two best shortstops in franchise history – Jimmy Rollins as a young player breaking into the big leagues, Larry Bowa as a starter working on his consistency – Galvis has not only been lauded nationally for his glove, but is perhaps the most respected player in the clubhouse by his current teammates and coaches alike. It’s the dedication, energy, and team-first mentality that becomes infectious from the Phillies' longest-tenured player, and which also does not go unnoticed when you’re operating a young team that’s rebuilding and struggling to win games regularly.

Some veterans can grow sour while on losing teams (you don’t have to go too far back into Phillies history to find them). Freddy Galvis, even with top shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford in the clubhouse, is the antithesis of that player.

Galvis carved out some time earlier this week in New York for The Q&A.

Who’s the best defensive shortstop in baseball?

     Galvis: Uhhh…. I don’t know, there’s a few. There are a few of them. But I can’t tell you who is the best one. [Laughs]. I have (to keep that) one to myself.

Is that a modest way of saying you should be in the conversation?

     [Cracks up]. Yeah, you know – I feel like the work we’ve put in in the last few years has put me in there, I believe so. Especially when you have a lot of conversations with a lot of coaches and managers from other teams, yeah I can be in that conversation. But I prefer not to (say any one name).

Do you watch highlights of anyone?  

     Not really. Maybe if it’s on and I see someone making plays.

But no one specific?

     No one specific. But if I said I’d like to see someone, I’d say I like to see Simmons, Andrelton Simmons from L.A.

That’s a good one. I remember you saying you used to watch Omar Vizquel on YouTube all the time as a kid [Galvis wears No.13 because of his fellow countryman]. What did you like most about how he played defense?

     I think everything was easy, like, he didn’t try to be too flashy, or try to make it look like it was really, really hard. He would just catch the ball and throw it to first base, and I believe that’s always reminded me of what every pitcher wants: someone who can catch the ball and make the throw right to first base.

He was smooth

     Yeah, smooth …

…but also dependable

     Yeah, but he was more like a guy just trying to make that play, and that's it. He wasn’t trying to be flashy or whatever.

When you were coming up through the Phillies minor leagues, and then coming to big league camp, what did you learn from Jimmy Rollins?

     Probably how to field the ball on different plays. On double plays, how to turn double plays, how to get outside the runner faster. And footwork, stuff like that. I think it was more the mindset, of trying to get ahead of every play, trying to know who is hitting, where runners are going, and after one pitch where you move, where you have to be for the next pitch. You have to move two pitches before everything is happening, you have to be on the same page with the catcher. That way you can anticipate where the ball is being hit.

I think you said the same thing about Chase Utley recently, that you learned from him was to always be ahead of the play mentally.

     Yeah, those two guys and Chooch (Carlos Ruiz), they were always more about the mental game than the physical game.

You played with a lot of great players. What else did you learn from Chooch?

     From Chooch, you have to take pride from your team. And you have to put your team first. Everything is about winning.

How about from Ryan Howard?

     From Howie, um, Howie would see the game a little bit different because, Jimmy and Chase were the ones I’d talk to as the oldest guys on the team, so Howie was more the guy you’d talk to about inside baseball and outside baseball, trying to get you in a good place, trying to have a good mindset about baseball and your family, all of that kind of stuff.

About balancing your life as a ballplayer?

     Yeah, balancing everything.

How about Roy Halladay?

     Roy Halladay? Commitment to the game. It was amazing. Every time you saw him step onto the field, it was all business, man. He was all about getting ready for the game and win the game that day. I saw him 3 or 4 days before he’d pitch, on his iPad watching the lineup he was going to face and writing everything by his locker. So he was really, really prepared. He prepared really, really good, and 3-4 days before he’d pitch.


     Dedicated. So when he got to his day, it was all about baseball.

You were also a young guy who came up when Utley and Rollins were here. And now you’re seeing young guys come up. Does that create an interesting dynamic? We saw Maikel Franco sit out for a few games, and everyone is probably going to have to sit at some point. Since you were in that position as a young player, do you understand that this is how it works, it’s a part of the game?

     Yeah, yeah. It’s different, you know? I think at one point you have to wait a little bit and get your chance and try to make opportunities and try to do good when you play. The more you play, you try to play hard and help the team to win the games. And I think if you do that, little by little, you’re going to be in the lineup, you know? And being in that situation a few years ago and now seeing these guys here, I know how tough it is. Playing every day in the minors and then coming to the big leagues and maybe playing two times a week, three times a week. It’s really hard. So I just try to talk with the guys and try to say to them to stay positive and keep working because, at some point in the game, the team is going to need (you). And you have to be ready. So I’ve tried to pass that on that, what I was doing a few years ago.

Funny, a lot of times people want to make it This Guy vs. That Guy when they don’t realize you’re teammates, too.

     Yeah, yeah.

I remember back in spring training I asked J.P. Crawford who his favorite shortstop to watch was, he said you. So it’s not like (anyone is an enemy). Everyone is here for the same purpose.

     Yeah, I mean anyone who is putting it as Who vs. Who, they don’t see it. We are friends. J.P. and me right now, we’ve kept in touch when he was in Triple-A, we’d text each other and talk to each other. And now he’s here, and I’m happy he’s here because it’s great to see a friend get to the big leagues. So I just want to try to help him to get comfortable in the big leagues as soon as he can, you know? I think when he does that he’ll become a good player. It’s not Who vs. Who, it’s being together and work together to win the games together.

To help this team win.

     Yeah, to help this team win. That’s what it’s all about.

Is starting 162 games – I know you mentioned it when your daughter was born in early July – is that something you still want to do, hope to do? [Breaking: Galvis was out of the lineup on Friday, two days after our conversation.]

     Yeah, I hope to do that, I hope to do that. Like I said before, I think September is a time, especially with where the team is going right now, it’s a time for the front office and coaches and managers to see other players, too. And try to figure out what we're going to have for next year. So we’ll see what happens. Like I said before, I’m with the team 100 percent.

You’ve been a guy that’s taken a leadership role this year. And when the team has gone through bad stretches, you’re not afraid to say stuff (through the media). Do you enjoy that, the leadership?

     Like I’ve said before, for me, being a leader isn’t something where you have to have that name on your chest and then I have to be a leader. No. For me, it’s just trying to help my teammates. And sometimes you have to speak up. And that’s the way I am. I just try to help my other teammates and try to pull everyone together on the same page, because we’re all going for the same goal. That’s why people will say you’re being a leader or something like that, but for me, that’s just getting everyone together on the same page.

The team has played better in the second half (a 24-29 record, only the Diamondbacks and Cubs' offenses have more extra-base hits). Has that been encouraging to watch?

     Yeah, It’s really good, man. Really good. We have a lot of young players, working hard, and they’ve played good. We have a lot of good players, this organization has a lot of good players. And that shows what we’ve been doing in the second half. There are a lot of guys playing in the second half who want to win, who are grinding, who want to be here in the big leagues, who are trying to show that they belong here. And they’re pushing it to show that, and I think that’s good for the team. And that’s great because it’s going to make everyone that much better.

For sure.

Where do you think you’ll be in five years?

     Me personally or the team?


     Five years? I don’t know, man. Like I say, I take it day by day. That’s the way I live my life. I try to do my best today and tomorrow we’ll see what happens. But like I said before, I can’t predict the future.

Is it strange free agency is coming after next year?

     Yeah, it’s kind of strange. Because it’ll be my first time as a free agent. It’s weird. I have 11 years so far in the organization. And so I will be a free agent. But I don’t want to anticipate too much because when you start thinking, I don't like that. I prefer to stay in the moment. And when that moment comes, we’ll see what happens.

You sounded like you wanted to answer that question the other way, about the team. So where do you think the Phillies will be in five years?

     Competing for sure, man.

Sooner than that?

     Sooner than that. I think they’re going to be in a good spot. I hope in five years the team has another World Series already. Because I think in another 2-3 years, 1-2 years, the team is going to be competing. And when you’re competing, anything can happen. But I think it’s going to be a good team.

Yeah, in a little over a year they can hit the free agent market and go after guys like (Manny) Machado or (Bryce) Harper. When you start spending money, you can get good quick.

     Yeah yeah, I think the team is ready. The team is going to do that when the time comes, and the time is coming, they say soon. I hope it’s soon, because we have a lot of guys here who want to compete. A lot of guys in this clubhouse want to do that, want to play. So I think it’s going to be a good one.

Do you still play in Winter Ball every year?

     Yeah, I still play. I didn’t like 2 years ago because I was preparing myself for the season (his first season as an everyday player after Rollins was traded). But besides that, yeah, every year, I always play. I try to get my at-bats and I really enjoying playing Venezuela.

You don’t ever take a break?

     I haven’t needed a break in my life so far, man. [laughs]

You’re still young. [laughs]

     Yeah, I’m 27. So the one thing I’ve said, if I’m young, I’m playing baseball when I’m healthy. I want to play as much as I can. Because this is a short career. I don't know what year I’m going to retire, but by the time I retire, I want to be happy and say I played all the time. I played in Venezuela, played for my country, played in the USA. I just want to be happy.

That makes sense.

How is everything back home, things not getting any better in Venezuela?

     No. No. It’s getting worse. It’s getting worse. It’s the situation with the war right now, it’s kind of crazy. I hope that it turns around and gets better.

Is it tough going home?

     Yeah, it’s really tough, man. It’s tough to go home, especially right now. It’s dangerous.

Do you feel safe, with two young kids?

     That’s why I don’t go too much. With two babies. If we were talking about 10 years ago, 15 years ago, or when I was a kid, yeah I would say it was safe. It was safe to go there with your family and enjoy it. But right now, that’s not true. The truth is it’s not safe to go to Venezuela. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, something can happen. But I want to see my family, too. But we have to be aware of where we go.

How old are your girls now?

     My older one is three years old, and the other is two months.

When do you start infield practice with them?

     [Laughs] My oldest daughter, she has a plastic bat and a ball back at the house. And whenever she feels like she wants to hit I have to pitch to her. So she’s been practicing already.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing baseball? Because you seem to be someone who kind of eats, breathes and sleeps baseball.

     Yeah, I mean, baseball for me is … when we’re in-season, it’s all baseball. But as soon as I go back to my country, I like to take a few weeks off. I like to watch soccer. I like sports, so I like to watch sports. I play a little bit of soccer, too, not too much.

Pickup games?

     Yeah, just small games back at my house. But also just being with my family and friends. It’s nice. I’m just a quiet person, I don’t like to go out too much or do that kind of stuff. I prefer to stay with my friends, maybe have a barbecue. And then when the time comes and it’s ready for the season again, my mind is on baseball.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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