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Better Know a Dodger . . . Wilson Valdez

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With an off-day on Thursday, and a big series coming up this weekend against the Giants, it felt like the right time to begin introducing our readers to the new members of the 2007 Los Angeles Dodgers. So, with apologies to Stephen Colbert, below is Part One of our 436-Part Series, "Better Know a Dodger". And who better to start with than perhaps the most anonymous of Dodgers, shortstop Wilson Valdez.

Not to be confused with former Dodger pitcher Wilson Alvarez, Wilson Antonio Valdez was born May 20, 1978 in the Peravia province of the Dominican Republic in the small town of Nizao (pop. 22,000). Nearby Bani, the capital city of the Peravia province, is the birthplace of such major league stars as Miguel Tejada, Mario Soto, and (ahem) Rafael Landestoy. Valdez' mother, Juana, raised Wilson and his 8 siblings in a tiny 2-bedroom house in Nizao. Wilson's father, Angel, died of lung cancer when Wilson was 13.

Wilson Valdez has two nicknames: "El Gato" (The Cat), and "Gatito" (Kitten). One assumes he has procured these nicknames as a result of his cat-like reflexes, both as a fielder and on the basepaths. It is not known whether Valdez subscribes to any cat-related periodicals.

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A quick look at the ebays reveals a wide variety of Wilson Valdez baseball cards available for purchase. Also available is a mini autographed bat from El Gato's stint in Seattle ($9.99! Buy it Now!!).

Wilson Valdez will make $381,000 this season. He stands 5' 11" tall, and weighs 160 pounds. Alas, ladies, Wilson is married (Kamie), and has a son (also named Wilson). More information about his illustrious career after the jump.