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Valencia working to regain past form

Valencia working to regain past form

Valencia working to regain past form
BOSTON -- The Danny Valencia of 2012 hasn't looked much like the Danny Valencia of 2010, when he was an American League Rookie of the Year candidate.

But that doesn't mean the latter has been lost.

The Red Sox acquired Valencia from the Twins in early August, sensing the need for another third baseman with the departure of Kevin Youkilis.

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But Valencia isn't proud of what he has shown in his brief stint with the club.

"Definitely not up to my standards," Valencia said.

But his two-run blast to give the Red Sox a temporary lead over the Orioles in an eventual 9-6 loss on Saturday, when he kept his weight back and smashed a curveball well over the Green Monster and into the adjacent parking lot, was a glimpse of how the 28-year-old used to play.

"It was great," manager Bobby Valentine said.

Valencia joined the Twins in 2010, and over 299 at-bats, he was everything they could have hoped, with a .311 average, a .799 OPS and a decent glove at third base.

Although his defensive ability drew questions early on, he's worked to a point where he's comfortable with his play at the hot corner.

It's his offense that's struggled.

He isn't making excuses, but with the year he's had -- bouncing between Minnesota and Triple-A Rochester, being traded to Boston, and again going back and forth between the Minors and Majors -- he collected more plane tickets than home runs.

"He had a unique situation," Valentine said. "Getting traded, that's tough, and then not playing, then going to the Minor Leagues, then coming here and not playing, then going back to the Minor Leagues -- he's been on a tough ride."

The hardest part has been trying to find consistency at the plate. In 130 at-bats in the Majors this season, Valencia has hit .188 and drawn just three walks while striking out 32 times.

"I'll tell you what, I was thinking about that earlier this year," he said. "And I've been a guy that's drawn some walks, but this year has been awful for me. I haven't drawn any walks at all and [I'm] striking out more than I should.

"I mean, on-base percentage is something that is important, something you should pride yourself on and something that's gotten away from me this year, and I have to get better at it."

After hitting just .250 in almost 300 plate appearances with Triple-A Rochester, he found a groove at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .306 in 49 at-bats while helping the PawSox win the Governor's Cup.

And after working with Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler, Valencia is starting to once again show the promise of the player who finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010.

"He came back with a different swing," Valentine said. "Arnie and the crew down there worked with him pretty rigorously.

"When he was here last time, remember, he hadn't played very much. He was in limbo or something for a while. His swing wasn't what it should be, and it looked much different when he came back in batting practice, and it looked much different in the game. And he's still getting into the routine of feeling good about himself."

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