GRAND CHUTE - Jose Valentin spent 16 years in the major leagues, including eight with the Brewers. He's now working his way back up the ladder this time as the manager of the Ft. Wayne Tin Caps. Even after all this time he still revels in coming to the ballpark everyday.
With his children growing up and moving out of the house, Valentin jumped at the chance to manage when the Padres organization came calling. He was drawn back by the siren song of long days with his second family, baseball.
"I enjoy all the time spent with the young players teaching them how to play the game of baseball," Valentin said.
Tin Caps infielder Maxx Tissenbaum said Valentin doesn't hesitate to correct his players and add in his input.
"Anytime there's a moment where you can learn something he's always going to make sure he jumps so we can learn from it," Tissenbaum said.
It can be stressful trying to foster players in the infancy of their careers.
"There's a lot of young kids coming out of high school with a lot of tools but immature," Valentin said. "So it takes a lot of time."
Immature or not, the Tin Caps know they need to pick the brain of the former big leaguer any chance they get.
"You can learn a lot just by sitting around in the dugout and talking baseball with him. You get out a little bit early for BP and he's always got a story about a guy that he faced or a team he played against or a ballpark he played in," said Tissenbaum.
While the players dream about living the big league life, Valentin likes to keep them grounded in the present.
"I talk more about the hard ways and hard times because I want them to feel the pain first about how hard it is to get to the big leagues," Valentin said, adding "is nothing easy in this life."
Valentin spent the first eight years of his big league career in Milwaukee and he still carries a great fondness for the Brewers and their fans.
"That's was the team that gave me the opportunity to be the player that I was in my career. It's always nice to come back here and be around all the good memories," Valentin fondly remembered.
He hopes to add to those memories some day by making it back to the majors as a manager.
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