Framber Valdez talks Houston, baseball and life

The two spoke in Spanish. This is the translation.

Framber Valdez is a big reason for the Astros success this season. He was an All-Star pitcher, along with teammate Justin Verlander, and he set the Major League record for consecutive quality starts. 

KHOU 11’s Daniel Gotera caught up with the Astros’ star pitcher for a conversation in the dugout. Valdez is from the Dominican Republic, and the two had their conversation in Spanish.  You can watch the full interview in the window above.  Below is the translation into English by KHOU 11 producer Corina Garcia.

DANIEL GOTERA: First question, where did your obsession with peanuts come from?

FRAMBER VALDEZ: I eat peanuts because when I was in the Dominican (Republic) I used to sell peanuts when I was young… around 11, 12, 13 years old, I used to sell peanuts in a bowl and would go town by town selling them for 5 pesos and that’s why now I like them. I’ve always liked them. They call them peanuts, cacahuates. In the Dominican you say ‘mani’. 

GOTERA: You never get tired of the peanuts? I’m assuming you would be after selling, being surrounded by the peanuts all the time.

VALDEZ: well yeah, I got tired of selling them, it was something that everyone (inaudible), but I would sell them to earn money. now, every time that I see them, I remember those times so that’s why I get them and eat them all at once.

GOTERA: if I were to tell you 2, 3, 4 years ago, that you would be in the position you’re in now…. would you have believed me?

VALDEZ: Honestly, no. There are things you never imagine in your life. sometimes, as you keep progressing, you’ll find things that you never imagined yourself.

GOTERA: With what you’ve accomplished, how do you feel?

VALDEZ: I feel proud of myself. I feel proud of the work I’ve done. I feel good about the efforts I’ve done along with everyone that’s worked with me, those that have given me advice. And I feel proud of the work I’m doing and how I’ve maintained myself.

GOTERA: What’s been the difference between last year and this one? What have you done to advance in your career at the moment you are at right now?

VALDEZ: Simply, the consistency, the discipline on and off the field. Knowing how to get along with your teammates, knowing how to act during the game. To know how to handle your discipline with your body and mind. How you work, how you think about the games, at home, how you think about maintaining yourself and that’s what I do. I think about things before doing them. I work before I get on the field. And I concentrate to the max to give the best I’ve got.

GOTERA: What did you learn from last year’s world series? Opening the first game and all the experience you have, that you can use, or that you have used, this year.

VALDEZ: The first thing I learned was to not say what I’m going to do for every game. I simply go in and play. Last year, I talked way too much about what I was going to do, how I was going to pitch, and how I was going to bat. Those are things that I said out of impulse and excitement. One learns every day, how to handle the emotions, the adrenaline, and how you’ll be in that situation.

GOTERA: Well, that wasn’t your fault. That’s just the kind of person you are.

VALDEZ: Sure, yes, yes, yes. I prepare with that adrenaline, the excitement, and prepare myself when a big moment will happen as if it’s the last one and advance to the world series.

GOTERA: What do the people from those towns where you used to sell peanuts say about what you’re doing now?

VALDEZ: It feels good because of how I’ve grown in baseball – which wasn’t just one signing. It wasn’t that I only that I stayed with one academy and went home. Instead, I signed with one academy, and went to my hometown, representing my country. And today, I’m shining in the big league thanks to God. I feel proud of what I’m doing now.

GOTERA: What does this organization mean to you?

VALDEZ: It means a lot. They gave me the opportunity, the chance, the break to get into the major league. Giving me the break to show that I can do this, that I do have the talent, and that I have the ability to maintain and help this team.

GOTERA: Speaking of your hometown, offseason, you went back and started building a church. Can you tell me about that? It’s a dream of yours?

VALDEZ: That was something that I promised back in 2013, 2014 when I would go to Iglesia del Pastor. I used to be Christian. I derailed in 2014. One time I told the pastor, that when I’m in the big leagues and have two years under my belt, I’m going to build you a nice church, a church where you’re comfortable so that your members can go peacefully, they won’t get rained on, won’t have problems.

As the years went by, I signed in 2015, went to the major leagues in 2018, 2019, 2020, and in 2021 when I said, I’m going to build this church now. And I started on it in 2021, November 10th, and it was finished on December 31st. I felt really good, I was proud, I gave thanks to God that I promised and built it with a lot of love and work. And those who helped me build it, mainly my family, and I feel good about what I did.

GOTERA: How did that conversation go, when you told them: this is what we’re going to do now, I told you 7 years ago that I was going to do it but now I’m doing it. How was that conversation and the emotions coming from it?

VALDEZ: I called him in 2021, and at the end of the season, I told him, Pastor, this year we’re going to build the church. Are you sure? Of course, secure the land and my commitment is that church, it doesn’t matter as long as we have that land, we’ll build it. He started working on his things. He secured the land so there wouldn’t be any issues with the construction. I arrived, spent a few days there, and started working on November 10th and we went in full force. The pastor was very happy, he was amazed, and he thanked me for what I did.

GOTERA: And how does the church look now?

VALDEZ: It’s really pretty, it’s beautiful. The members are comfortable and have a place of refuge. They can go without worrying about a tornado, the wind, or rain, they go to that church and give thanks to God every day for the construction, and there they are relaxed.

GOTERA: How does this team feel in the playoffs compared to other teams?

I know that they’re different but it appears that this team already knows what to expect. How does it feel with this team now?

VALDEZ: For us, we haven’t planned to make it a habit to be in playoffs because we work hard and a lot. I think one of the teams that I’ve seen and have heard that work hard, is the Astros team. It works hard from the minor league to the big league. we’re always working hard. When I was in the minor league, I see the work we’ve done and the team’s consistency and it’s good.

GOTERA: where does that come from? Where does all of that hard work start?

VALDEZ: In reality, in the Dominican, you work a lot. When you sign, it’s not that you’re flaunting. If you sign in to the Dominican academy, you work like a man like how I did with my colleagues in 2015, 2016. You work hard. When you get here, it’s spring training in the minor league. you work hard in order to advance and grow and even if you change teams, we’re always growing to the next level just how to like it is today. there are ball players that go to other teams, they get out of here and are in the big league.

GOTERA: Which one of your teammates has the best stories?

VALDEZ: Jorge Alcala. We signed together in 2015. He signed here, they changed him to the league in Minnesota.

GOTERA: One that’s with the team now.

VALDEZ: Christian Javier – a good ballplayer. Bryan Habrero who grew with me from the bottom up. He’s with the Padres now, but there was a lot that we did together, and could play in the Major League last year. These players that are here now, I’ve seen grow with me, we’ve worked together daily. Luis Garcia also from the “Finca”, we’ve all worked hard to stay at the top.

GOTERA: Seeing how a player like Jose Altuve works, and what he’s done in his career, does that motivate you?

VALDEZ: He motivates me a lot. In 2015, 2016, when they say Altuve, Altuve Altuve, we always had a picture of him in the minor league in the Dominican. Everyone was talking about Altuve. That’s when I started looking at Altuve and seeing how hard he worked. A man with his stature working like a monster which is why he’s accomplished everything he has done in the big league. Being a horse, being a man. And that fascinated us and it’s why we work so hard. Even at the end of the season, I keep working hard to finish hard.

GOTERA: What do you all have to do to get the championship this year?

VALDEZ: Stay Focused. Keep the same mentality. Maintain the same purpose and know what we’re going to do on the field now that we have the experience, we have an advantage of what we’re going to do which is to play hard, to play real ball. And keep discipline on the field.

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