Already Itching to Get Back — Brandon Crawford
As you might have heard, I’m sitting out today and probably tomorrow. I have a tight oblique on my left side that happened last night in the sixth inning. I swung hard and missed, striking out for the third out of the inning. I felt the tightness when I threw during infield warmup. I knew this feeling: I had a strained oblique on the right side in the last game of 2013 but didn’t come out of the game. I took another at-bat and made it worse.
So when I went into the dugout at the bottom of the inning last night, I told the trainers who told Bochy who took me out. I hope a few days of rest and treatment will get me back in the lineup. It’s really bad timing. We need every single guy against these tough NL Central teams. We’re grinding it out every day. Given how dinged up we’ve been, we’ve managed to stay close to the Dodgers. Believe me, nobody’s panicking.
I hate to sit out when the team needs me. And I’ve been feeling so great at the plate. At some point I’ve got to get that 20th homer. It’s been ridiculous. The ball I hit off Scherzer to the Yahoo sign was about a foot from going over. I hit double two days later that was so close to going out they had to look at the replay. In St. Louis, I hit a fly-out with the fielder’s back against the wall, then a double off the bottom of the left field wall. In Pittsburgh I got robbed by Marte making a spectacular play. Then there was the ground-rule double that would have been a home run here in AT&T, and you can’t say that very often.
Whatever I’ve lost in home runs, I’ve gained in doubles.I have 29, three above my career high. I’m going to surpass all my career-highs in hitting except triples. I only have 4. But I’ll take the home runs. It really is as fun as it looks. Any person who’s hit a home run, even in Little League, knows that great feeling of running around the bases. And even more important it’s helping the team score runs.
Speaking of home runs, Barry Bonds was at the park yesterday. He talks to various players while we’re taking BP. When I hit a few pop-ups, he reminded me not to drop my back shoulder. But what I really appreciated was him telling me how much he enjoys watching my defense. He said he played against, and with, a lot of good shortstops and said he admired the mental side of my game as much as what I do physically. He said that combination doesn’t come around too often. It’s a great compliment coming from anybody, but coming from him it’s even more meaningful. He mentioned Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Smith, Shawon Dunston, Barry Larkin and the shortstop I looked up to as a kid, Royce Clayton. That’s a pretty good group to be compared to.
I like that Bonds shares his hitting knowledge with us when he’s here, but nobody has been a greater influence on the increase in my power at the plate than Hensley Muelens — Bam-Bam — our hitting coach. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s done. He likes us to be aggressive, and that’s one very specific thing I’ve been pretty good at this year. I’m taking aggressive swings and trying to hit the ball hard.
Bam-Bam and I have done a bunch of different drills in the batting cage throughout the year, and we’ve found a couple that we like. One is to take swings with just my top hand (the right hand). Then with just my bottom hand. Bam-Bam with will feed me balls or I’ll hit off the machine. Then I’ll hit with both hands. It gets each hand working the right way individually so when you put them together it’s going to feel even stronger.
Also Bam-Bam is probably the most easy-going and calm of all our coaches, which I think is huge for us. In past years, when we haven’t hit well and everybody was getting stressed, he was the same calm guy. That’s nice to get from a hitting coach when you’re struggling and trying to find something. I think that’s why we don’t panic as hitters.
OK, let me answer of a few of your questions.
During a pitching change, when the infielders are all standing together, what do we talk about? It could be anything. It might be as simple as, “Bum looked good today.’’ Although if Bum looked good, there wouldn’t be another pitcher coming in. We might talk about a few small things about the game that we really don’t even need to tell each other, but we’re standing there and filling the time. Sometimes, if it’s been a rough game, we don’t say anything. But we stand together anyway because I guess we just want to have company while we’re waiting because there’s nothing else to do.
I’ve also been asked why position players go to the mound when Righetti or Bochy are talking with the pitcher. It’s usually if there are runners on base. We’ll ask where Wotus wants us positioned — all the way, halfway, all the way back? We usually look in the dugout for the sign but often Bochy or Righetti can tell us. I also want to listen to their plan for the next couple of batters. For example, if Bum’s pitching and there’s a righty up and a runner on first and less than two outs, I’ll want to know: Are they going to be throwing cutters in and soft? If so the righty is probably going to pull it to the left side of the field — toward me, in other words. So I’ll let Bum know the second-baseman will be covering second on a comebacker to him. If he’s going to be throwing hard and away, the hitter more likely will hit to the right side, so I’ll tell Bum that I’ll be taking the throw. I want to have a better idea of what the batter is more likely to do so I can better position myself.
What’s the make model of my glove? Rawlings with an H web. I’ve used Rawlings since I was drafted.
Someone asked about how painful it is when we’re hit by foul tips at the plate because we usually don’t show we’re in pain. For me, I don’t show a whole lot of emotion for anything, whether it’s a good play, a bad play or I’m in pain. But I remember a foul tip in the 11th inning in Atlanta in July 2012. I fouled a cutter off my knee cap and I dropped to the ground like I’d been shot. It felt numb for a second, and I thought, “What did I do?’’ Bochy and the trainers came running out. I knew there was nobody left on the bench, and I had to stay in. I got back up and the knee felt OK. The next pitch was almost exactly the same, and I hit a three-run homer and we ended up winning.
Here it is:
Another question: What would you trade me for a Pujols-autographed ball? My answer: A Brandon Crawford autographed ball.
I’ll end with sharing my and Jalynne’s excitement about finding out we’re having a boy. I’m happy the girls will have a brother — and that I’ll have a comrade in our house of girls! And here’s how exciting the life of a Major Leaguer is. On our day off Monday, Jalynne and I got out of the house while the girls were napping (my mother-in-law watched them). We stopped to have a sandwich for lunch, then we went grocery shopping. But believe me, with all our travel and the long days away from my family, it really is exciting to hang out with Jalynne no matter what we’re doing.
Thanks for reading. Keep sending us all your good energy. We need it!