Welcoming the New Guy – Brandon Crawford
So glad to be back in the Bay Area, though I had a good time in Arizona, and not just because we took two of three from the D-Backs. Jalynne and the girls were waiting for me at our house in Scottsdale when we arrived from Chicago. They drove in from Los Angeles as we were flying. And the next day was an off-day. What did we do? A whole lot of nothing, which was perfect. We went to breakfast at one of our favorite places, Butters Cafe, then hung out the rest of the day by the pool. We had dinner at another of our favorite places, Blanco, a great Mexican place on Scottsdale Road.
It’s been great to see Joe Panik do so well his first two games in the Majors. He stopped our skid — at least that’s the story he ought to tell his friends back home. And it might actually be true. That fact he did so well in his first start allowed all of us to get excited for him, which inject a nice boost of positive energy into the dugout. After he got that first hit, five guys came out and gave him high fives and big congrats.
We were even more all impressed with his double in the ninth. That was a great at-bat against a lefty, Joe Thatcher, who I personally hate facing. I don’t think there are too many left-handed batters who like facing him. Panik survived Thatcher’s sliders and cutters to drive a two-strike pitch to the opposite field. It shows you how balanced and mature a hitter he is already.
I saw that approach when I played with him during the 2011 fall league the year he was drafted. He had just made the switch from shortstop to second base, and he took to it right away. I doubt there are too many things that rattle Panik, even playing here tonight at AT&T Park for the first time as a Major Leaguer.
During batting practice today, he told me he had played one game in this park — an exhibition last year against the A’s.
“I don’t remember the 421 sign looking quite so far away,’’ he said, referring to the distance to Triples Alley.
He asked me about the wind and how a pop-up to second might play. I said the wind usually comes in from right, but sometimes it will just change its mind and start blowing the other way. So I said you just have to react to the ball and adjust to it while it’s in the air.
He asked, too, about my batting-practice routine. We usually have five rounds every day, sometimes six. That means you get five or six turns at the plate, taking five to eight or nine swings each time. Some players will go in there and hack and try to hit home runs. Hunter, for example. What I do is the same thing I’ve done since spring training. The first round, I lay down two bunts then take seven pitches and try to go middle and opposite field. The second round is situational routines: hit-and-runs, move-’em-over from second, runner on third with infielders back, runner on third with infield in and one out — that sort of thing. Then I have three rounds of five swings. That’s what I do every day.
We do BP rounds by group, with the starting batting order in the first two groups. Group 1 is Hunter, Pablo, Buster, Morse. For some reason Pagan goes in Group 2, so today it was Pagan, Blanco, Colvin, me and Panik.
Panik also asked about my routine defensively during BP. I usually take 15 to 20 grounders and throw to first, then take 15 to 20 more and throw to second as if turning a double-play. I told him if he wanted, he could take ground balls and flip them to me at second. So we did that today.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. In the next blog, I’ll answer your questions. Wow, there are a lot of them!