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!
Thanks for all the notes of congratulations. And the advice. I know I’m gonna need it.
The thumb is getting better but not fast enough for me. The cast is off and I have a protective splint but I pretty much wear it only when I work out and when I sleep (in case I roll over on my thumb). The swelling’s down quite a bit, though it’s probably going to be at least a little swollen for a couple months. But it won’t affect my throwing or hitting. I’m able to tie shoes again though very slowly, so now Haylee doesn’t have to do it. (In case you’re wondering, the Brandons won’t help me with anything. Hicks once helped me take my watch off, but that was it.)
I’m taking grounders every day and flipping the ball over to Shawon Dunston at first. It’s more about getting my legs back in shape — moving side to side again, stopping and cutting. Agility exercises are good but nothing’s better than taking ground balls.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed being on the field. You’re used to being out there for seven months straight. You take it for granted. Then you suddenly don’t have it. You’re stuck on the stationary bike in the weight room. So it’s been nice to feel grass under my feet.
Once I get more flexibility and strength back, I’ll probably go to Fresno for a rehab assignment. The last time I was there was 2011. I’m looking forward to seeing guys I haven’t seen since spring training and the folks who work at the park there. And the best part: If I’m in Fresno, it means I’m playing baseball again.
In the meantime, I’m in the dugout talking to whoever’s next to me. Usually it’s about genius stuff. But if you talk enough, there’s going to one thing that comes out kind of stupid. Ninety-nine percent of my conversations I’m a genius, 1 percent I’m an idiot. But everybody likes to change it around to make me out to be 99 percent idiot. I’m a little goofy. I’ll admit it. I’ll say goofy stuff. But if you say one wrong thing in a baseball clubhouse, you get called an idiot for the rest of your life.
Without playing, other things in my life tend to gain more importance than they usually would. Our dog Lilly’s diarrhea, for instance. We’ve taken her to the vet, and they say everything’s normal so it’s probably stress. We were talking to a dog trainer who was telling us we have to change our lifestyle. Lilly wants to be an alpha with Haylee, as if Haylee’s her pup. She growls at people and dogs who get close to Haylee. That’s why she’s stressed out. Now we’re giving her anti-anxiety medicine. Don’t ask me if it’s working on her diarrhea. I haven’t seen her take a dump lately. Haylee’s the one who sees her all the time.
To answer a question one of you had about naming our baby: No, we will not be naming him Brandon after Crawford.
Now for the movie reviews. I’m changing my grading scale. Now it’s going to be letters — A, B, C, D — so I can get pluses and minuses in there. And I’ll have a second rating: Haylee awake (HA), Haylee sleeping (HS) or Haylee not available (HN/A).
Edge of Tomorrow: Some alien life form has landed on earth and they’re starting to pretty much take over the world. They can’t be defeated. They constantly evolve. Tom Cruise is a marketing guy who somehow gets thrown into the mix. He kills an alien and its blood gets in his body. So now he has the ability to start the day over. Every time he dies he starts the day over. Kind of a Groundhog Day thing. He’s trying to figure out how to defeat this alien race. Emily Blunt is the best solider in the world basically. She has had this power before so that’s why Tom Cruise is going to her. He has to repeat everything he’s said to her every single day, but she says, “Hey, when you die come back and find me again. We got to keep on doing this until we figure it out.’’ It’s more realistic than most sci-fi movies. I’ve seen those movies before, but this is by far the best one I’ve seen. It’s my favorite movie of the year so far. I highly recommend it.
Rating: A and HA.
A Million Ways to Die in the West: I can’t tell you what it’s about because it only kind of has a plot. It’s basically a movie to see how many random funny scenes they could put into one movie, and a lot of the scenes aren’t funny. In fact they were pretty stupid. Usually I like movies like that, but this one was boring. It’s no MacGruber. Save your money.
Rating: D. HN/A. (I saw it on our road trip to Cincinnati with Cain, Affeldt and Buster after we ate at Five Guys Burgers. They all thought it was terrible. They’d probably give it an F. I’m not giving it an F because at least it got me out of the hotel room.)
Maleficent: Angelina Jolie was in it, and Elle Fanning. It’s a fairy tale movie. You know how they did that backstory to the Wizard of Oz, Wicked? This was basically the same thing — a different side to Sleeping Beauty. They did it through the eyes of the fairy that put Sleeping Beauty to sleep. It was OK. If it was on TV, I’d probably watch it again. But I wouldn’t go buy it or anything like that.
Rating: C. HN/A (I saw in Cincinnati by myself.)
Blended: It stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. I saw this awhile ago. I liked it a lot even though it got only 14 percent approval from critics. It has its cheesy parts, but every time I watch Adam Sandler, he makes me laugh. I’m a huge Adam Sandler fan. There are a bunch of funny parts to the movie that keep you entertained.
Rating: B to B-. HA.
I really want to see 22 Jump Street. My friends are in town from Lufkin so not sure they’ll want to do that. I’ll post my review when I see it.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again for all the nice comments.
I think Belt will be blogging tomorrow — he’s been talking about movies, so you can expect some reviews. His cast his off, so we’ve had to stop calling him Chubbs. (If you haven’t seen Happy Gilmore, ask someone who has.)
Since I last pinch-blogged, I moved from the Courtyard Marriott into an apartment in San Bruno. How’s this for generosity? Marco Scutaro told me to stay in his apartment while he’s still in Arizona on the DL. I met Marco for the first time last winter in Florida through my former Braves teammate Martin Prado, who was my workout buddy this off-season in Orlando. Martin knows Marco from Venezuela. We all went hunting together on Scott Proctor’s ranch in South Florida.
Then we saw each other a lot during spring training not only because I was with the Giants but because I stayed with Martin at his house in Arizona during spring camp. Marco took me out one day to a dairy farm near Scottsdale to hunt pigeons and doves with air rifles.
He won’t take any rent for the apartment, which is not OK with me. So I have to figure out how to thank him. Maybe some hunting gear.
When the Mets were just in town, I couldn’t help thinking about how much my baseball life has changed in a year. Last season, I was with the Mets’ Triple A team in Las Vegas, the 51’s. I never got a call-up. You always believe you’ll land back in the Major Leagues but you don’t know where or when. It’s humbling to think I’m now not only in the big leagues, I’m on a great team and playing almost every day. It’s a great opportunity that I’ve been blessed with and I just want to make the most of it.
Any player who’s being honest will tell you he gets a little extra satisfaction when he does well against his former team. I was happy to have a good night Friday — double, triple walk, two runs. I wasn’t so happy Sunday when I struck out three times in a row. But that fourth at-bat, I still believed I’d get a hit, and I singled home Crawford. You just got to keep grinding.
That’s kind of the motto of this team as a whole. Keep grinding. You never know who’s going to step up. It’s a different guy every night. We have so many good players on this team. Our pitching’s awesome, our defense has been good and you never know who’s going to get that big hit. That’s what’s helped me so much — the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Everybody knows what they need to do to be prepared every day. And when things don’t go our way, there’s no panic. We proved ourselves early on with comebacks. We feel like we’re never out of it. You get a couple guys on and you’re one swing away from getting right back in the game.
That’s it for me. Check out the latest Giants Magazine with the all-Brandon cover. Our mothers tell why they named each of us Brandon, plus other Brandon trivia.
Thanks for reading.
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.