First, make sure you get the latest Giants Magazine. On the cover: Three Brandons.
If you’re wondering why Hicks isn’t in the TV commercial for the Brandon Bobblehead day with Belt and me, it’s because that commercial was shot in January (when we were all in town for Fan Fest). Hicks hadn’t made the team yet. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training. It’s a pretty funny commercial, I have to admit. My uncle texted me that every time he sees it, he laughs out loud.
Now to your questions:
Chad Zullinger, the choir director at St. Ignatius, wants to know if Giants hitters take batting practice against Giants pitchers.
Only during spring training because hitters need to face top pitching to get their timing back. I’ve seen other teams, where a pitcher might be coming off a DL stint and a batter hasn’t been getting a whole lot of at-bats, and they’ll face each other. But I don’t know if I’ve ever seen us do that. Sometimes pitchers throwing a bullpen will have someone stand in at the plate. I saw one of our pitchers hit Eric, one of the trainers who was standing in as a batter. If Cain had hit a player, we probably would be second-guessing that a little bit. Or if a hitter took a swing and hit a pitcher with a line drive. I don’t think we want that to happen.
By the time the season starts, our timing’s there. So in BP we’re working on specific things and keeping loose.
Steve asks how I shake off an error. “It has to make you mad, so what do you do with those feelings?’’
It definitely makes me mad, especially if I have a dumb error like I had Saturday night. I tried to be way too quick on a ground ball, and I bobbled it. Those make you mad because it’s your own fault. I should have slowed myself down and made sure I had the ball first. I probably would have gotten the runner. You just have to tell yourself you’ll make the next one. You have to have that confidence. I feel like I’ve always had a good demeanor. Even as a kid, I was pretty good at shaking off errors. Knock on wood, but I can’t remember too many times when I’ve let one error lead to another. I’m not going to lie, though — after the error Saturday night, I was still thinking about it even a couple innings later. It bugs me right now thinking about it!
I’ve had a few recently where the ball has taken a bad hop. Those are easier to shake off because there isn’t a whole lot you could do about it.
Margaret wants to know where the White Shark blog has been.
Gregor’s been writing it. Sorry you’ve missed it. Here’s his latest. http://gregorblanco.mlblogs.com/2014/06/09/hard-work-attitude-decaf/
Jill wants to know how bummed Hunter was when his scooter was stolen. She also asks if I really read the comments.
I think everyone could see how bummed Hunter was. It was like a piece of him was missing. And yes, I always read the comments.
Ann asks, “Which play as a Giant are you most proud of?’’
There were a couple good plays in the World Series. I made a diving stop up the middle on Miguel Cabrera in the eighth inning of Game 3. We were protecting a two-run lead. Timmy was pitching. Cabrera led off the inning. Prince Fielder was on deck. If Cabrera gets on and Fielder hits a home run, now it’s a tie game. I guess I’m proud of that because it was against one of the best hitters in baseball on the biggest stage in baseball in a close game.
I also remember in the fifth inning of Game 4. We were behind 2-1. Runner on first. Two outs. Quintin Berry was up and Cabrera on deck. Berry hits a come-backer that glances off Cain’s glove. I barehanded it and threw Berry out to end the inning.
Another one: This was in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals. We had a 1-0 lead in the second inning. They had runners on second and third with two outs. Kyle Lohse, the Cards’ pitcher, hit a soft line drive over my head that would have scored both runners. I leapt up and caught it. Giving up a two-RBI single to the pitcher could have been a backbreaker.
Ann and also Dan Hunter ask: What would you be doing for a career if not baseball? And what’s your dream job after baseball?
In high school I took an architectural drawing class on computers. We designed the floor plan for a house. The dimensions had to be right, things like that. It was cool. I thought that would be interesting.
My dream job after baseball would be to be a Dad. It’s a dream because I’d have to make enough money so I could do just that. Otherwise, maybe I’d coach.
Jon Adams asks, “What’s your favorite music?’’
I like a little bit of everything. There hasn’t been much new music I really like. It’s kind of disappointing. If anyone has suggestions, let me know.
Courtney asks about the medieval helmets and if we get to pick the style we get.
I don’t know much about it, to be honest. I don’t know how it’s decided who gets what helmet. I’m not even sure who does it. I think it’s Hunter or Morse or both of them together.
Island Girl asks if I can sing.
No. Definitely no. Listen to my radio commercials. I don’t have the voice for singing or for broadcasting. I know a lot of lyrics — not as many as Timmy — but I know a lot. But you don’t want to hear me sing. I don’t want to hear me sing. I turn the music up so I don’t have to hear myself. I sing to my daughters at bed time, but it’s just the ABCs and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
This is from Melissa: Do you use alternative medicine like acupuncture?
We do. Haro Ogawa, our masseuse, has his license for acupuncture. I’ve used it a few times.
Richard asks: The new home run celebration — how did that start and what are you chanting?
I think it’s from wrestling or maybe Michigan football, or both. I’m not positive. They’re yelling yes, yes yes. I haven’t gotten into it. I hit a home run the other day and everybody’s waiting — and I walked through giving high fives. Buster doesn’t do it either. And that’s fine. Not everybody has to do everything the same.
I was thinking today about how every team has a different vibe. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a feeling you get about how guys click, how they approach the game. The team this year, if we lose a game, we move on. We were shut out at home by the Braves then put up 10 runs the next day. We lost in a walk-off in Colorado then came back and beat them the next day. Somebody steps up.
I don’t know what that is — the medieval helmets Morse is leaving in guys’ lockers, Pablo’s superhero T-shirts or what — but something’s working. It wasn’t the same last year. I think it has a lot to do with adding a personality like Morse. We kind of lost that when Ryan Theriot left. You need a guy who keeps everybody loose. Morse is just a positive guy. You never really see him down. He’s funny but he can get you fired up, too, which is how Theriot was.
I shouldn’t single out Morse because there are a lot of guys in the clubhouse who make the team what it is. Every guy, actually, because it’s the combination. There’s always something going on in here. You probably know about Pablo’s cowboy boots by now. I think it started when we were in LA. He put on Bumgarner’s boots, which I’m not sure that was the smartest thing he’s ever done. But he ended up getting a big hit so he kept doing it. Then Bumgarner got him his own pair. Pablo puts them on in the dugout before his first-inning at-bat. He actually takes his cleats off, puts the boots on, dances around and puts his cleats back on. It’s ridiculous. Whatever works.
My contribution is music. I’m generally the DJ in the clubhouse. About 45 minutes or an hour before the game, I’ve been putting on the same four songs because they’ve been working. We’ve lost with them, too, but mostly we’ve won. I’m not going to say what the four songs are. We don’t want other teams to know the winning combo.
We’re back on the road, as you know. I was lucky the last road trip because Jalynne and the girls met me there. Jalynne’s cousin Mechaela, just started working as our nanny, so it’s easier for Jalynne to travel. The two of us went for a nice dinner the first night, while Mechaela and the girls had room service at the hotel. The next couple of mornings, before I went to the park, we went to the zoo and to a children’s museum.
Unfortunately, they got stuck at the airport on getaway day, the day our game had to be suspended. They arrived at the airport early hoping to get out before the worst of the storm. They were there about six hours with two kids under a year-and-a-half. Not fun. Finally they hitched a ride on the team plane. (Families don’t fly with the team except on specially designated family trips.) A big thanks to Boch for giving the OK.
A few more things:
Jalynne wanted you to know the wives raised $21,000 from auctioning the baskets. Thanks for helping to get the word out.
Someone asked for a photo of Tyler Colvin’s dog, so here it is.
To McCovey Cove Dave: I was happy to sign the Splash Hit home run ball for you. You mentioned Katie Sherwood getting my first Splash Hit. She is supposed to be visiting the park sometime soon and has agreed to give me the ball in exchange for another autographed ball.
I’ll answer your questions next time. Keep them coming!
I’ve got news. I’ve been sitting on it since January, waiting for the right time, which seems to be now. There will soon be a baby Baby Giraffe. Haylee is six months’ pregnant, so there is no hiding her belly any more. The baby is due in September. We already know it’s a boy.
We’re really excited. We know we’ll be getting lots of advice from teammates and their wives. We might even listen to some.
It’s been two weeks today since my surgery. It’s kind of driving me nuts not to play. Someone asked me on Twitter on a scale of 1 to 10 how much I wanted to get back into the lineup and I said a million. I love watching baseball, and we’re winning, so that part is great. But in the dugout, because I don’t have anything else to do, I’m talking a lot more. I need to shut up. No one’s told me to shut up, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. The more I watch, the more I want to play. And the more it drives me nuts.
Morse is doing a great job at first. He’s an athlete. You heard about him tossing the ball in the dugout and hitting my broken thumb? He was throwing it to one of the clubhouse guys, but it bounced, hit the dirt and came toward me. I was on Vicodin at the time, soon after my surgery. So my reflexes were a little slow and my coordination was a little off. I waved my right hand at the ball to bat it away, and I completely missed it. And it happened to go right where my thumb was. That did not feel good. I spent a little time in the clubhouse until the thumb stopped throbbing. When I returned to the dugout, I put a batting helmet over it.
Right after the injury, I watched a couple of games on TV. I thought it would be weird. But, it was weird only in that it wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be. I felt like I had done this before, and I realized why. Sometimes I’d get home from a game and CSN would be showing a replay, and I’d watch some of it. So that’s what it felt like when I watched live games. Of course, the best part of watching any Giants game is listening to Kruk and Kuip. My family back home won’t watch any Giants broadcast if Kruk and Kuip aren’t doing it.
I’m getting a little better at using my ring finger and middle finger as a kind of claw to grip a fork to eat. I tried eating with my right hand and it wasn’t pretty. Haylee has to help me with my socks and tying my shoes. She’s in Mom Mode, taking good care of me.
A couple of movie reviews. (Thanks for saying you missed them!)
Godzilla: It’s a little long and kind of confusing at first. I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on right now.’’ But I liked the story line. Godzilla is kind of a good guy in this movie. You kind of like him at the end. It’s a different perspective.
Two and a half stars.
About Time: It stars Rachel McAdams and some British guy. The men in his family have always been able to travel back in time. They can even travel back to a memory and change it if they want to. They can do whatever they want. It’s kind of a like a normal Rachel McAdams movie like The Notebook and The Time Traveler’s Wife. So I wasn’t expecting much. But I really, really liked it. It hit on a lot of emotions. It was funny. It was sad. It kind of makes you appreciate the people you have in your life. I just really liked it. Of all her movies, it’s the best one. Haylee fell asleep. We started watching it late at night, she just couldn’t stay awake.
Three and a quarter stars. (I’d give it three and a half, except I’m just not crazy about the romance/chick-flick genre of movies.
Neighbors: I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out since December. I think I had built it up too much because I was kind of disappointed. It didn’t meet my expectations. I thought it was funny but not as funny as I thought it was going to be. It was kind of stupid, really.
Thanks for welcoming all the guest bloggers. I’ll jump in now and then. In the meantime, I’m working hard to get back on the field as soon as I can. Thanks for all the encouragement!
I’m jumping in for Brandon today to let you know about something going on this weekend at the ballpark. I’m wondering if you could help us get the word out.
The players’ wives and girlfriends have put together “Player Favorite Things Baskets.’’ We’re auctioning them off tomorrow and Saturday to raise money for three great charities: the Giants Community Fund, The George Mark Children’s House and The Homeless Prenatal Program.
You can see the baskets and bid on them at the Community Clubhouse, which is on the Promenade Level behind home plate. (Half will be auctioned off Friday and half Saturday.) You can make bids through the first three innings of the games. There’s also an online auction (sfgiants.com/gcf through Wednesday, May 28)with experience packages — like lunch with Tim and Kim Hudson, Batboy for a Game, Batting Practice Experience, First Pitch and more.
Here’s what I put in Brandon’s basket: a game-used bat, a signed ball, three signed baseball cards, one men’s and one women’s signed Crawford T- shirts, Junior Mints (my dad surprises Brandon with them when he gets good hits or needs a good hit), some of his fav chocolate, Sun chips (one of his fav chips), Mountain Dew (FAV soda), crossword puzzle book (he loves doing these on his phone before bed, on the plane, in the training room with Javi Lopez while heating sore muscles before games), Hunger Games book, (he enjoys reading but doesn’t have much time anymore and he really enjoyed the movie), Starbucks gift card (loves his caramel macchiato), Cheesecake Factory gift card (one of our fav places to eat but haven’t been in a while). In past baskets I’ve included a Bible, but the store I went to was sold out. With the time constraint I couldn’t go to another place to get one :(
Here’s info on some of the other baskets:
Kristen Posey included a signed baseball, signed game-used batting gloves, two signed baseball cards, signed Giants hat, Dumb and Dumber DVD (Buster’s fav movie), BodyArmor (fav drink), jalapeño chips, Reese’s cup (fav candy) and his fav snack, beef jerky (“We are from the South!’’ Kristen says).
Jessica Morse did something really cool. She put together a regular basket, then she did one that resembles a Giants locker. It has hooks where she hung a signed pair of Mike’s game-worn cleats, a signed jersey and other cool things. Her regular basket has Mike’s fav candy bars (KitKat, Hershey’s, M&Ms), signed ball, signed batting gloves, iTunes gift card, signed baseball cars, a bottle of wine, signed bat, signed hat, an 80’s music CD, Beast Mode apparel from Fresh 22.
Mirna Blanco, Gregor’s wife, said she included signed cleats, signed bats, signed batting gloves, magazines that Gregor likes (car mags and Cosmopolitan!), and PlayStation and Wii games.
Lisa Pilgrim is David Huff’s girlfriend. Her basket has a nice bottle of red wine, signed memorabilia, iTunes gift card, a few of David’s favorite movies such as The Hangover (“He likes so many movies it’s hard to pick. He basically watched everything that comes out,’’ Lisa said), Red Vine licorice and clothes from Lululemon. (Lisa: “He’s obsessed with Lululemon. It’s ridiculous.’’)
Haylee Belt’s basket has a gift card to Olive Garden (of course!), gift card to AMC theatre, Vacation movie set, Red Bull, popcorn, a SF T-shirt, autographed game-used hat, autographed game-used batting gloves, signed baseball and Brandon’s signed pink Mother’s Day cleats.
Ali Bumgarner said her basket has a signed Giants hat, a to-go cup with a straw (a type that Madison loves), a game-used bat, a signed baseball, beef jerky, the movie Taken, an iTunes gift card, signed shirt, signed Jesus Calling Devotional book and a signed Bible.
Nicole Vogelsong must have a big basket to fit all this: signed Marucci bat, signed ball & case, SF Giants 2014 Yearbook, SF Giants Metallica Hat, SF Giants Throw Blanket, #32 Vogelstrong T-shirt, Cal Ripken Book, The Dark Knight Trilogy DVD Set, Hoosiers DVD, For Love of the Game DVD, Alter Bridge CD, King James Backpack Bible, Starbucks Travel Cup, $50 Starbucks Gift Card, $25 Under Armour Card, $25 Outback Steakhouse Gift Card, bag of Reese’s Pieces, bag of Chocolate Goji Berries, 50-pack of SF Giants Golf Tees and a 3-Pack of SF Giants Golf Balls
Hope you can help us get the word out — and maybe bid on a basket yourself! We want to raise as much as we can for these great organizations that help so many people. Thanks!
My turn to fill in for Belt — a good day to do it because there’s no game. I’m hanging out here in Denver after a great weekend with my wife, Molly, in San Francisco. She flew in Friday from Arizona, where we’ve lived for the past four years. She couldn’t come earlier in the week — I was called up from Fresno May 11— because she was putting an offer in on a house in Charleston, S.C. We’re expecting our first baby in late October, so we are selling our Mesa house and moving back east to be closer to our families. My family is in North Augusta, S.C., across the border from Augusta, GA. And hers in in West Virginia, about an hour from Pittsburgh, PA.
We already know we’re having a boy. They can do DNA tests in the 10th week and find out. Pretty cool. We’re still discussing names. When people ask Molly where she’ll deliver the baby, she says because it will be during the World Series, she hopes it’ll be San Francisco.
In the meantime, we looked this weekend for a place to rent in the city. The problem is we have a 100-pound Greater Swiss Mountain dog, which is basically a short-haired Bernese. Her name is Mya. It’s not easy to find a furnished place that will take a huge dog and a short lease. Probably easier to find in the suburbs, but this is one of the greatest cities in the world, so why not enjoy it? I’ll look again during the next homestand. I hope Molly and Mya can move here in early June.
I’ve been encouraged to tell you a little about myself.
- I grew up in North Augusta in my grandparents’ home. They mostly raised me because my dad left and my mom was young and working to get an education and a job. My childhood was pretty great. There were big ponds on the property behind my grandparents’ house, so when I wasn’t playing baseball or doing homework, I was out in our aluminum Jon boat fishing for wide-mouthed bass. Oh, we also bowled a lot. My grandfather and uncle spent a little time in the pro’s. Maybe that will be my next career. I already have my own ball and bag.
- Despite my Southern roots, I didn’t start hunting until a few months ago. Molly and I spent the Christmas holidays at her family’s 100-acre farm in West Virginia. It was the tail end of deer season, so everyone said it was hardly worth going out. But I had all this brand new equipment and clothes so I was out every morning before dawn. I never even saw a deer.
- I went to Clemson, where I met Molly. I was drafted in the first round by the Cubs my junior year. I’m 46 credits short of my business degree, and I promised my mom I’d go back someday.
- My grandparents didn’t miss a single game when I was at Clemson — 186 consecutive games. They put 83,000 miles on their van during my three years there, driving to Boston and Miami and Texas and everywhere in-between. I gave my grandpa the ball and bat from my first big-league hit.
- I’ve had a couple of weird injuries. When I was in Taiwan with Team USA in 2007, I was throwing the ball during batting practice and somehow hit my elbow on a screen. It hurt but I played through the pain in 2008, but finally had to get Tommy John surgery in 2009. Then in September 2010 with the Cubs, I was running from third to home when a shard from a broken bat nailed me in the chest and punctured a lung. I couldn’t play the last few weeks of the season.
That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know. I’m having a great time with the Giants — it’s always more fun when the team’s winning and you’re able to contribute. But this is also just a real easy team to fit into. And the fans are the best. It’s unfortunate that I’m here because Brandon Belt got hurt. But in baseball you make the most of every opportunity.
Thanks for reading. This is a cool way to connect with fans. I’m glad I got to do it.
When friends back in Georgia and Alabama ask what it’s been like here in San Francisco, I tell them that everything about it’s great. The city’s awesome. The fans are awesome. The organization does everything right. That’s what I heard before I got here, but you have to be here and experience it to really get it. Boch is a manager who makes anyone feel comfortable right away. The whole coaching staff – Righetti, Gardy, Flan, Wotus — they’re all that way.
And the clubhouse is all a bunch of nice guys. A pretty good number happen to be from the South. Bumgarner’s locker is by mine, so I’ve had a great time getting to know him. He’s even more Southern than I am. He’s a cowboy. He comes in here every day in cowboy boots and long Wranglers. He ropes cattle. He’s a big tough guy — but with some of the thinnest skin you’re ever going to come across. You can really get to him.
As soon as Puig flipped his bat — for example — I thought, “This is not going to be good.’’ Bum jawed at Puig, who jawed back. Later in the dugout when we asked what was going on, he said, “I don’t even know what was said! I don’t even know what I was saying. We were just kind of yelling at each other!’’
It was pretty funny because it was so Bum. Of course we continued to prod him because that’s what you do. It’s one of the things you have to love about baseball.
I’m renting a house near the Presidio. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the Marina and Cow Hollow and checking out some of the great restaurants. I’m still trying to figure it all out — particularly the best way to drive to the field every day. Sometimes it gets a little challenging depending on the time of day. But the discovery process has been fun. And the house is starting to feel a little homier, but it will be a lot better once the family gets out here in a couple weeks.
In the meantime, I’ve gotten together for lunch a few times with a buddy I know from my Oakland days who lives in the Marina. I’ve had lunch with a couple of friends from Walnut Creek, too. I found a little breakfast spot I like on Lombard called Home Plate. I didn’t go there because of the name. I just Yelped breakfast places, and it was one of the first things that came up.
Some people have asked what it was like going back to Atlanta to play the Braves. It was a little odd being in the opposing dugout. But that’s part of baseball. If you play this game long enough, you’re going to play for different clubs and play against former teammates. It’s one of those things you have to accept. Lucky for me the different club I ended up with was the Giants. The fans here are always so supportive. And right now we’re playing some pretty good baseball. So it’s always fun to come to the park and suit up because we know we always have a good chance to win. And we always know we’ll have a full house. What’s better than that?
Thanks for such a warm welcome. I know my family is going to love it here as much as I do.
At least some questions answered. I keep forgetting to save the questions, so when I sit down to do the blog, I don’t have them in front of me. I pulled some recent ones.Here goes.
Quick question, where were you during the 2010 World Series?
I spent the off-season that year at Jalynne’s parents’ house, so that’s where I watched most of the Series. We had just won the California League championship. I had spent most of 2010 with the Richmond Double A team. Then I broke my hand and rehabbed with the San Jose Single A team, which happened to be in the playoffs. We won the championship against Mike Trout and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. I didn’t know anything about him yet, I just knew he was a prospect. Jalynne and I went to one game at AT&T with tickets we got from Bobby Evans. We were up in the third deck.
What is it like traveling so much and having to adjust to different beds and climates and time zones? Do you ever have issues sleeping? I know I do when I travel. Do you have any special things you do to help adjust?
It is kind of tough to adjust sometimes. The time zone messes me up the most. We’ll have a game in Atlanta, let’s say, and we’ll get back to the hotel around 12 o’clock. I’m still wide awake because it’s 9 on the West Coast. To be honest, that happens even when we’re home. I can’t shut myself off right away after a game. It helps sometimes with the kids because they’ll wear me out a little bit and help me sleep. But on the road trips when they’re not there, and we’re on the East Coast, it’s hard to go to sleep. I’ll watch a movie or play a video game to wind down and get myself to sleep.
Some guys have trouble with different beds and pillows. But that hasn’t affected me that much.
We actually had a sleep doctor come in this spring and talk to us about some of those things. What I remember is you’re supposed to stay away from anything with light, which means TV, laptops and video games. But they help shut my brain off, so I still do it. I don’t remember what he said about time zones, but I don’t think there is really any way to adjust with as much travel as we do.
As for climates, we’re used to playing all over. You bring the clothes you need for that trip and you’re fine. And playing in San Francisco, we get every climate. Yesterday and today we have hot weather. And obviously we get a lot of cold nights and wind and fog. We get it all.
I have a question about team and/or player study before you actually play the team. For instance, since most of the games this next month are in our division, will you and others spend any amount of time looking at stats/tendencies of players (probably pitchers too) on the Twins, Pirates, Braves or Cubs out in May?
We do that for every series whether it’s guys that we’ve played a lot or teams like the Twins who we play once every three years. I’ll go over my positioning at shortstop with bench coach Ron Wotus. He’ll also go over the other infielders’ positions with me so I can help set them up if necessary. We do a more in-depth meeting the first day of the series. Then we’ll meet for a shorter time other days, especially if there’s a drastic difference between our starting pitchers. Let’s say Timmy’s pitching one day and Bum’s pitching the next. That’s a big difference. Timmy’s throwing a lot of sliders right now. And he’ll face a different lineup than Bum will face. There will be a lot fewer lefties when Bum’s pitching. And he’s throwing cutters in on righties, so we’ll position a little different for each day.
We also study up on opposing pitchers, too. Bam-Bam has a list of the pitches each guy throws. He’ll have us look at it usually during batting practice. If we want to see film, we do that on our own. I usually do, especially with pitchers I haven’t see before or only see maybe a couple times. Like the Marlins right now. I’ll go into the video room and watch what their pitches do so I’m not seeing it for the first time at the plate.
I also try to look at the bullpen guys, too, though it can get to be too much. I’ll focus mostly on their closer and the lefty specialist that I’ll probably face.
There were a few questions about the hitting competition.
I’m happy to tell you that Team Brandon won the first month. Angel Pagan (who’s not Team Brandon) won top individual honors. Bum was the top pitcher. I think he got more points on the grand slam than the rest of the pitchers combined.
During BP Monday night (in Pittsburgh), a pitcher absolutely laid out for a ball in right center. Everyone went nuts. We could not tell who it was. It seemed like it might have been Lincecum, but I don’t want to spread rumors. We were speculating that Bochy was probably not as amused as the rest of us. Can you reveal who it was?
It was Chad Chop, our left-handed batting practice pitcher. Cain bet him he couldn’t catch the next ball hit out there. The next ball was hit right to him and he caught it. Cain was like, “No way.’’ I don’t know if it was Cain or Bum who then bet him he couldn’t make a legit diving catch. And the next one was hit out to right-center, and Chad dove and caught it. The cameras are on even during batting practice, and there’s like 16 different angles. So we all watched it a bunch of times on the replay monitor in the clubhouse. Chad’s the master at replays because he’s the one who works the monitor for Shawon Dunston to decide whether to challenge a call. Chad’s new this year to the team. He threw batting practice to Hunter this off-season so Hunter could practice against left-handed pitching. I guess Hunter told Bobby Evans about him.
All right, thanks for reading. Keep asking questions. I’ll try to answer them more frequently.
With Belt on the DL, we’re taking turns filling in, so here I am. I’m not a social media guy. I don’t do Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever else is out there. But I thought it might be interesting to tell you a little about the bullpen.
Relievers are kind of a family within a family. Like our own band of brothers. We know we’ll be facing some pretty stressful situations later in the game, so in the early innings we keep things really loose and light-hearted. We’ll bring up some topic — maybe current events, something that happened the night before, something in the game at the moment — and we get the banter going.
Let’s say Santiago Casilla made a nice play on a come-backer the night before. He’s normally not a great fielder, so we start making fun of him for that. And he gets playfully defensive about it.
You can imagine the field day we had with Machi after his bunt in Pittsburgh. We all know he’s a good athlete even if he doesn’t look it, but we kidded him about not knowing how to hold the bat and about chugging down the baseline to first. Casilla promptly said he was faster than Machi, and Machi countered that not only was he faster than Casilla, he was the fastest in the bullpen.
I chime in and say I can take either of them. So someone says, “OK, we’ll have a footrace.’’
You’ll be relieved to know cooler heads prevailed. One of us would have gotten hurt, no question. (This is where I could take a cheap shot at Affeldt, but you’re already thinking it so I don’t have to.)
In any event, Machi was upset he didn’t get a hit on the bunt.
“A hit?’’ we said. “The ball beat you to the bag! How is that a hit?’’
You get the idea.
This is a different bullpen than I’ve been a part of. It’s very international with a lot of Venezuelans. There are no cliques. That’s one of the things that makes it pretty special. We spend some time learning English, some time learning Spanish. Casilla is one of my favorites because he genuinely tries to learn English. He’s always learning a couple of new phrases, and he has a few he goes to all the time.
The Venezuelan guys tell a lot of stories about the winter league down there. Machi told me Panda doesn’t talk in the Venezuelan league. He is not vocal at all, contrary to the singing, laughing character we see (and hear) in our locker room. Machi said it’s because there’s a pretty strict hierarchy down there, and Panda’s still considered a young guy. I found this hard to believe, but Gutierrez and Petit said it was true.
It’s kind of the reverse for Machi here: He doesn’t have a lot of time in the big leagues, so he doesn’t talk a lot. He’s talkative around us, but if you were to walk into the locker room he’s a pretty quiet guy.
Another thing I didn’t know that I learned in the bullpen: Even though Machi has been a closer in Venezuela for four years, he didn’t have a save in the big leagues. I had just assumed last year he must have gotten one with us at some point. (Shows you how much I really remember about our games.) He already had five wins but he really, really wanted a save in the big leagues. And he got one during the last road trip in LA. To see him do it, knowing how much it meant to him, was pretty neat.
So all this talking among the relievers is great, but what if there is no bullpen, like here at AT&T Park? The joking and laughing don’t go over real well in the dugout. We have to be kind of careful. At the start of the game, we park ourselves at the far left of the dugout, up by the rail. The coaches are at the opposite end, and the position players are usually on the bench against the wall.
At some point, we usually make our way to a small room at the bottom of the stairs (behind the dugout), where we can watch the game on TV and not bother anyone.
I don’t want you to think we don’t talk about baseball. We talk about situations that might have come up the previous night, and maybe there’s a similar situation today and Bochy has decided to go with a different pitcher. We’ll talk about different strategies and ask each other what we’d do against this hitter or that one. It’s always good to have Plan A but sometimes you need Plan B, C and D. So it’s nice to bounce stuff off each other.
The best thing about our bullpen is that we realize we’re in this together, and we have each other’s backs.
Thanks for reading. Now when you see a shot of us on TV in the early innings, you know we’re enjoying each other’s company and keeping things loose. Until the bullpen phone rings and everything changes.
Thanks to everyone for their messages of encouragement. I got through surgery fine this morning and I’m following doctor’s orders to take it easy today. For the next couple of months, I’ll be focusing on rehabbing my thumb and staying in shape so I can get back on the field as soon as possible.
So I’m going to turn the blog over to my teammates while I’m rehabbing. I might throw in an occasional update, but believe me, it will be way more interesting to hear from the guys who are actually playing.
Thanks again for all the good wishes. You guys are awesome.
I just had a late breakfast with my sister Amy and her boyfriend, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole. Amy is here in Pittsburgh for the week to see him (she lives in Newport Beach) and timed it for when the Giants would be in town. Great to see them both.
Crazy series in Atlanta. Such close games. We drove in exactly zero runners in scoring position. We scored just nine runs. And we still swept.
You know it’s crazy when I hit two home runs in a game.
It was reported that I had never hit two in a Major League game. That is true. So is this: I had never hit two home runs in a high school game, a college game, or a minor league game.
The only time I hit two home runs before yesterday was in 2008 in the Dominican instructional league. I had been drafted in June of that year and signed in August. I hurt my ankle so I didn’t get to play much in the Arizona instructional league. So the Giants sent me to the Dominican instructional league in October to get more at-bats. I was the only American on the team. I could see the Latin guys eyeing me like, “Who’s this white guy?’’
Then I hit two home runs in my first two at-bats. Granted, it was kind of a small field and the pitching isn’t great at that level. But two home runs are two home runs. I don’t think those stats get recorded anywhere, but I have witnesses: Hector Sanchez and Ehire Adrianza were on that team, too
The second homer yesterday was kind of interesting because the pitcher, Jordan Walden, literally jumps off the mound. And he has a hitch when he jumps, which screws with your timing as a hitter. I remember facing him last year. When he was jumping at me, I found myself kind of jumping back at him. Which meant his fastball was even faster.
Yesterday on deck I watched his delivery to see when I wanted to stride. Hicks had a good at-bat in front of me, so I saw a lot of pitches. I told myself to have a slow body and just let my hands react. I felt a little jumpy the first couple pitches and had two checked swings. In retrospect, it was good that the second checked swing was called a strike. Otherwise I would have had a 3-0 count and had to take the next pitch. Instead, it was 2-1 and Walden grooved a 96-mph fastball. I let my hands react. And there you go.
I get more satisfaction about my defense, though. I think I’ve talked about this before. I play it pretty cool when I make a good play. I usually keep my game face on. But Saturday I couldn’t help smiling because Hicks just gave me a look. I was able to stop Evan Gattis’s grounder up the middle in the top of the ninth Friday night to help preserve our 2-1 lead. Then I stopped Andrelton Simmons’ grounder up the middle to end Saturday’s game. Hicks just looked at me and smiled and said, “You did it again!’’ You can see in the video that I cracked a smile.
The tough part of that play is the throw. Your head is turned away from first base when you start into your throw. But you know that first base hasn’t moved. You know where it is. And I’ve practiced plays like that. The key is to throw hard to beat the runner.
Do I ever surprise myself? Sometimes. But you prepare for plays like that. I feel I should make plays like that.
Thanks for reading. Looks like it might rain here. Can’t wait to get home to our park. And to my girls. Jalynne said Braylyn’s molars are coming in. Not very exciting news, I know. But you parents understand.