Phillies' Freddy Galvis healthy and, hopefully, wiser

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis, on his 2012 suspension: 'It was tough, man. Sometimes you don't do stuff and you pay for it.'
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis, on his 2012 suspension: 'It was tough, man. Sometimes you don't do stuff and you pay for it.'
Posted: February 19, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - For 2 weeks, Freddy Galvis was laid up in bed in a Philadelphia hotel, all alone. He surfed the web, watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of takeout.

"Cheesesteaks, Chinese food, pizza, everything - it was crazy," said Galvis, who had season-ending back surgery in June. "A lot of Chinese food."

It wasn't the highlight of Galvis' rookie year in the big leagues. Strangely, it wasn't the low point, either.

That came less than 2 weeks later when Major League Baseball levied a 50-game suspension on Galvis for violating the league's drug program. Galvis tested positive for a metabolite of Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance.

For the first time since issuing a statement after the suspension was announced in June, Galvis talked about the blemish on his 2012 season on Sunday before the Phillies' workout in Clearwater.

"It was tough, man," Galvis 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 didn't expand anymore on the incident, but his words echoed those from the ones he made in a press release after receiving the suspension. In June, Galvis said that a trace amount of the substance was found in his urine and that he could not "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."

Regardless of the how or why, Galvis, like teammate Carlos Ruiz, will have to prove he can perform without illegal help in 2013.

"For me, it's still baseball," Galvis said. "I don't really care what people think about me. 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."

Last spring, that's exactly what Galvis was doing in Clearwater. The favorable impression he made then, and when the major league season continued afterward, has stuck with Phillies officials.

In the second week of March, with Opening Day less than a month away, the Phillies asked Galvis to move from his natural shortstop position to second base, a position he never had played before. He handled the transition so smoothly that Galvis became the Opening Day second baseman in place of injured All-Star Chase Utley.

His defense was consistently sound and often jaw-dropping. While mixing in a few timely hits, he hit .300 with 17 RBI during a 3-week stretch in May, Galvis quickly became a fan favorite.

But Galvis' rookie season came to an abrupt end in early June. On June 6 at Citizens Bank Park, Galvis walked off the field in the middle of his at-bat in the fifth inning after feeling a sharp pain in his back.

"I thought it was a little pain and that's it," said Galvis, who suffered a Pars fracture of his back. "But after like 5 minutes, when I walked into the dugout, I felt really bad. My leg went numb. I started to worry about it."

First came the cheesesteaks and Chinese food. Then came a lengthy rehab.

Galvis, who served his suspension late last summer, didn't begin fielding ground balls until mid-August and he didn't get back into a game until mid-September, in Instructional League games in Florida.

He finally felt like himself again when he was back home, playing shortstop for Aguilas de Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. Galvis played for more thanr 3 months, hitting .300 with a .351 OBP, five homers, 11 doubles and two triples in 58 games. More important than the numbers, however, was that his back began to feel normal again.

"No more pain," Galvis said. "Right now I'm feeling stronger again."

Galvis spends 60 to 90 minutes getting treatment and stretching each day - something he'll have to do for the rest of his career - to keep his back in shape. Despite suffering a serious injury 8 months ago, Galvis was in line with the rest of the position players on Sunday.

He shared an infield with veterans Utley, Ryan Howard, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Jimmy Rollins. Galvis shared work with Rollins at shortstop.

The slick-fielding infielder also will work at second base and third base this spring.

If manager Charlie Manuel gets his way, Galvis will be the primary backup infielder on the major league roster when camp breaks. Manuel, who values Galvis' defense and baseball acumen, said he could see Galvis playing in 60 to 70 games and getting 250 to 300 at-bats, which would help him developmentwise, too.

Although Galvis had only played 33 games above Double A this time last year, the front office at least hasn't ruled out having him on the big-league roster.

"I think that's yet to be determined," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He missed a lot of time last year because of the injury. He still needs at-bats. I think it's going to have to play itself out to see how much playing time we think he could get at the major league level."

Galvis, like anyone in the home clubhouse at Bright House Field, would prefer to be a big-leaguer. If he ends up on the major league roster again, Galvis will have a fan in Manuel, who is confident both his young infielder and Ruiz will make people forget their suspensions.

"I know who they are . . . I don't think it will come up again," Manuel said. "I would be surprised if it does . . . I think they want to show that they are good players and they can play real good. Does that help them? Yes, of course, in some ways.

"I think I know both of the guys and I think that I know they are going to play hard and they are going to try to prove to themselves and everyone else that they may have made a mistake, they plan on playing over it and becoming the type of player we think they are."

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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