"It was the first time I really struggled bad," he said. "It was about making adjustments. I was getting by on talent alone. I had to learn how to be a baseball player and understand what was happening. In a weird way, I think it helped me."
The frustration got the best of him. He broke his hand hitting a water cooler and missed five weeks.
"I think everyone has those moments when it gets away from you," he said. "It gave me a chance to sit back and observe, something I might not have been able to do if I was playing. I was kind of too close to the problem."
Valaika hit .161 before the injury and .260 after it. His best month was August when he hit .318.
Triple-A is a big adjustment.
"I think it was just a combination of things, guys being veterans in Triple-A, having an idea of what they're doing," he said. "I'm sure it's ever more so in the big leagues. If they find a hole, they're going to keep exposing it until you make adjustments. It's cat and mouse."
Valaika did not play Winter Ball.
"I took the winter off and got to clear my head a little bit. I'll go into the season, having an idea, a clue. Now, I think I can make adjustments and ride that wave and eventually get out of it."
How much can Frazier, or the FO, learn from this? I've been hoping to see Frazier hit the DL for a week or two, just to implement some of this perspective with Frazier. Very, very similar situations.