OAKLAND – Catcher Bruce Maxwell caught Cesar Valdez a couple of times at Nashville earlier this month, and he’s excited for Valdez’s first game with the A’s Thursday.
With Oakland looking for a replacement for at least one game after Kendall Graveman wound up on the disabled list Monday, Valdez is being called up to make the first start of a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
Signed by the Diamondbacks out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, he has pitched in the big leagues before, but not since 2010, when he threw in nine games, two of them starts. Since then, he was almost out of baseball, skipping the 2014 summer season, but coming back to rave reviews in the 2015 season with Tabasco in the Mexican League.
The A’s signed him as a minor league free agent last November. He was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts for Nashville before getting the promotion.
“He’s a very deceptive guy to have to face,” Maxwell said. “He can anger you as a hitter. There’s a lot of stuff he throws – fastball, changeup, curve, slider, even a sinker. He could probably mix in a knuckleball if you asked him to.
“I’m excited for him. I know it means to him what it means to all of us to get called up. He’s going to want to shine. This is his shot.”
The matchup is going to be a tough one for Valdez, who is getting the start that would have gone to Kendall Graveman were he not on the 10-day disabled list. The Mariners are scheduled to throw lefty James Paxton, who is not only 2-0 but who hasn’t allowed a run yet in his first 21 innings pitched.
“We were impressed by what we saw from Valdez in spring training,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The thing is, every injury to somebody is an opportunity for somebody else.”
The A’s have yet to make a roster move for Valdez, who doesn’t figure to arrive in Oakland until late Wednesday. They’ll also have to make a 40-man roster move to get him eligible.