Last year when Bochy called me in his office and told me I made the Opening Day roster, I was so emotional that I had to take a few minutes to collect myself before going back into the clubhouse.
This year was a little different. I still didn’t know if I was going to make the team. So that part was the same. For six weeks in spring training you’re wondering and wondering. You’re thinking, “God, I just want to know.’’ They don’t tell you anything. It’s nerve-wracking. I figured I wouldn’t find out until Wednesday, when the final cuts were to be made and announced.
So Tuesday afternoon in Oakland, I’m at the cage during batting practice before the preseason game against the A’s. Bochy comes up to me and asks how I’m doing.
“I feel pretty good,’’ I say. “Hope to get a couple more hits tonight.’’
“If you get two,’’ he says, “you make the team.’’
I laugh and say, “I’ll do my best.’’
“No,’’ Bochy says. “You made the team. Congratulations.’’
It was awesome to hear that. I was really happy and relieved. But no tears this time. (By the way, I got only one hit that night so good thing Bochy was kidding.)
The biggest difference from last year to this year is my confidence. Last year, I didn’t know what was going on. Even as far as the plane and hotels. You’re always one stupid move from making a complete fool of yourself.
And when I struggled at the plate, I got advice from a bunch of different people and felt obligated to listen to all of them. This year, I’m confident in my approach at the plate, something I worked on in the Dominican winter league and during spring training. If I do go into a slump, I know I’ll come out of it without scrambling around and changing everything. I know myself better and what works for me. So I’ll take the advice that’s useful and leave the rest.
The team feels different this year, too. Not radically. But I feel we gelled right from the start of spring training. It seems like everyone’s kind of on the same level, like there’s no hierarchy.
Of course, it could be just that my perception has changed because I’m no longer a rookie. Last year, I came into a clubhouse with a lot of veterans and I kind of felt I was by myself. This year, not only do I have a year of experience under my belt, but there are more young guys – Brandon Crawford, Brett Pill, Hector Sanchez.
The other thing is having Buster back. He’s one of the biggest leaders in the clubhouse and one of the biggest bats in the lineup – both of those are huge and have an impact on how the team feels overall. Everyone’s real confident.
I’m sharing the blog this year with Crawford. We’ll be alternating. So look for his entry in the next couple days.
See you back in San Francisco next week. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave comments. I love reading them and will try to answer your questions in an upcoming entry.