Hard work in the batting cages can be rewarding for anyone—fun, exercise, and the thrill of accomplishment are standard benefits. For the newest member of the New York Yankees’ coaching staff, Danilo Valiente, dedication to the batting cages turned into a marquee job!
Valiente got his start as a player and manager in Cuba, one of the world’s most talent-rich baseball strongholds. After coming to the U.S. in 2006, Valiente aggressively pursued a job with the Yankees—Major League Baseball (MLB)’s most valuable and popular franchise—by persistently offering his services to Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman. Valiente began work at the Yankees’ minor league complex shortly thereafter, and embarked on a remarkable ascent through the ranks of the organization.
Danilo Valiente has become renowned as a master of throwing at batting practices—years of toiling in batting cages has made him a champ! Although many train in batting cages with high-quality pitching machines, an organization with the Yankees’ hundreds of millions can take a plunge on a specially trained batting cage specialist to train its players, too. Valiente’s job consists of three elements—throwing in the cages to players looking for extra swings in their spare time, throwing and hitting ground balls during standard batting practice, and, during Yankees games, tossing warm-up pitches to players as they prepare for their at-bats.
Such hard-working specialists, common in professional sports, often are unsung masters in the background of team success. But legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has taken great pains to make sure Valiente gets his due—a true tribute to the batting cage whiz’s value to the team. “You have to see how much he really does,” Jeter said. “He’s behind the scenes, obviously, but everyone here knows how much he does. Everybody loves him, and he deserves it for how hard he works.”
Jeter is playing his last season in the majors before retirement. And, on his final home opener, he made sure Valiente shared some of the spotlight. Jeter insisted the team take the rare step of introducing their batting practice coach before the game on the public address system—a tribute that left Valiente at a loss for words. “Just to be with the Yankees is an honor. But for him to do that for me, el Capitán, it was an amazing thing.”
Amazing indeed—and if you want to get in on the fun, summer is here and it’s prime season for taking some practice swings! Check out Wheelhouse Batting Cages today.