Galvis tries to move past injury, suspension
Infielder aims to stick with Phils after missing time due to ailing back, positive test
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Everything last year looks like one big blur to Freddy Galvis.
"One day I was playing shortstop here," Galvis said Sunday morning at Bright House Field, "the next day I was practicing second base. The next day I was playing second base on the big league team and the next day I was in bed watching TV with an injury and I couldn't even walk. And the next day I was suspended. Then I started doing [therapy] and then I went to Venezuela to play. I didn't have the chance to go home and relax a little bit."
Galvis hopes 2013 moves a little more slowly. He and Kevin Frandsen entered camp last week as favorites to be the team's two utility infielders, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he sees a scenario in which Galvis starts 50-60 games, shuffling from second base to shortstop to third base to give veterans Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young occasional breaks.
But Galvis will have to prove himself on a couple of fronts to stick: he has to stay healthy and produce while playing clean.
He suffered a pars fracture in his lower back in June, which forced him to the miss the rest of the season. But even if Galvis had suffered a less severe injury, he would have missed significant time. Major League Baseball suspended him 50 games for testing positive for a metabolite of Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Galvis said in a statement at the time: "A trace amount of a banned substance -- 80 parts in a trillion -- was detected in my urine sample. I am extremely disappointed in what has transpired. I cannot understand how even this tiny particle of a banned substance got into my body. I have not and never would knowingly use anything illegal to enhance my performance. I have always tried to follow the team's strength and conditioning methods, listen to the trainers, work out hard and eat right. Unfortunately, the rules are the rules and I will be suspended."
Galvis reflected on the suspension Sunday.
"It was tough, man," he said. "Sometimes you don't do stuff and you pay for it. Like I said before, that's life and you have to move on. Sometimes when you don't do nothing and they blame you, that's bad stuff, but they have rules and you have to follow the rules. But that's in the past right now. Right now I'm focused on 2013."
Galvis hit .226 with 15 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 24 RBIs and a .617 OPS in 200 plate appearances last season, so it isn't like he suddenly turned into a power hitter. But he said he can succeed without the help of PEDs, and is not concerned about proving anything to anybody.
"I don't really care what people think about me," the infieder said. "I just care what I have to do here for the team and to win games. I'm not a guy who hits homers. I just try to put the ball in play, move the runner, bunt, sometimes hit in the game. That's my game. I don't try to hit homers. I try to play every day and prove to the team I can play baseball."
Galvis can play baseball. The Phillies' front office, coaching staff and teammates rave about his natural instincts for the game. They also know how talented he is defensively. He is so talented that Utley briefly considered moving to third base to keep Galvis as the everyday second baseman.
Galvis will be coming off the bench this season, assuming he makes the 25-man roster. But even then he needs to keep his back healthy. He said he spends about an hour or more every morning getting treatment and performing stretching and strengthening exercises. He said he is pain-free, but doctors have told him he will need to do back maintenance every day for the remainder of his career to lower the risk of recurring problems.
"They told me it has to be for life if I want to keep playing baseball," he said. "I want to keep playing baseball."
Galvis played every day in winter ball in Venezuela without incident, so he figures he can do the same with the Phillies should one of their everyday infielders suffer an injury and he needs to step into the lineup for a period of time.
That could include third base, although Frandsen played there regularly at the end of the year. Manuel said Galvis will be playing second, third and shortstop this spring.
"I think if you gave me a glove, I think I could do it," Galvis said with a smile.
One could argue starting the season in Triple-A would benefit Galvis, because as a 22-year-old, he still has room to grow. But the Phillies certainly could use Galvis' glove, and they don't seem worried about time on the bench hindering his development.
"I've got a chance to be on a big league team with a big league coach," Galvis said. "I have a chance to see the game, see the pitchers. I have a chance to learn about my teammates. There are a lot of big teammates here. I've got a chance to learn, to keep improving my game, you know? This is where everybody wants to be -- the big leagues. It's on you. If you want to learn, you learn. If you don't want, you don't want. But for me, if I stay here, it's going to be good. I'm going to get some at-bats. I'm going to watch the game. I'm going to learn about all the guys. That's good."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.