Results tagged ‘ Brandon Belt ’
When you play 162 games, plus games in the spring and postseason, you find yourself developing pre-game routines. For me, and I think for most guys, it’s not about superstition, like wearing the same socks during a winning streak. It’s about getting your brain into a battle mindset.
Having a routine saves you a lot of energy. You don’t have to figure out a new way every day to switch off normal-life mode and turn on focus-and-fight mode.
I’ll take you through my pre-game routine and mindset.
I start to feel the change on my way to the ballpark, whether I’m driving myself to AT&T or taking a taxi or the team bus to a ballpark on the road. My body and brain know a game will be happening in a few hours. It’s like the dogs in that experiment – what was that guy’s name? Pavlov?
So at that point I’m feeling some anxiousness. For a 7:15 game, I’ll get to the park around 2:30. When I step into the clubhouse, my demeanor gets more serious. I’m having fun with my teammates, but I’m not as goofy and loose as I am at home. I’m enjoying myself, but my body and brain know the clubhouse is my place of work.
As the game gets closer, I’m feeling more intensity. I just get going. I used to feel the intensity and restlessness way too much, and I had to learn how to calm myself down.
I did this in a few ways. I stopped – or at least I try really hard to stop – worrying about results. I can’t control them anyway. What I CAN control is how much I prepare. So I make sure I do everything possible to feel as prepared as possible mentally and physically. If I know I’ve done everything I can do – take extra fielding or batting practice, get my sleep, eat well, go over the defensive charts — I’m going to feel confident and more relaxed.
After BP, I eat, stretch, open mail, etc.
As teammates start to pull on the game uniform, I wait. I stay in my practice uniform or in a T-shirt and shorts.
About 30 minutes before the game, I change into my game uniform. By then, everyone else is already dressed.
Putting on my game uniform is the final step in getting into full battle mode. It’s like putting on armor. For a few minutes, I sit quietly in front of my locker. I’m not having conversations. My mind is focused on what I need to do to help us win. I’m thinking about my approach at the plate: Keep it simple, stay within yourself, see the ball and hit the ball. I try to keep myself from getting too caught up in the opposing pitcher’s strategy. Don’t overthink it.
But soon I have to start moving. Once the uniform is on, my brain and body are on red-alert to play. I want to get going. I might expend a little energy taking some cuts in the batting cage behind the dugout. I might walk to the dining room and grab something to drink. I want to just get out there and play. It drives me nuts to just sit at that point.
I’ve been doing this same routine, more or less, since I was in the minors. It keeps me calm, gets me focused and energizes me for another game of a very long season.
Thanks for reading. . . And thanks for all the All-Star votes! It really means a lot to see and hear about the efforts to get the vote out. I feel really lucky to play for the best fans in baseball.
(Movie reviews soon.)
Still shaking my head about the Warriors last night. Amazing. We know a little about playing in the postseason with our backs against the wall. Really inspiring to watch.
I want to finish up random notes from the last road trip.
Big Bad Bum in San Diego: As soon as Bum struck out Wil Myers for the last out of the inning, I bolted for the dugout because I was leading off. As I’m running in, the field crew is coming out to drag the field, and the crowd suddenly erupts. I’m thinking, “Man, they really like the field crew here.’’ Then I see the dugout emptying. I still don’t really know what happened. Just another day at the ballpark with Bum on the mound.
Swinging away: There are certain things you remember in detail when you play ball. They’re usually the things that don’t happen very often. One of those is swinging on 3-0 counts, which I did in the same game as the Bum-Myers dust-up. I’ve swung on 3-0 counts only five times in my ML career.
The first time was against Johnny Cueto in 2011. I flew out to left. I didn’t swing on 3-0’s for the next three years, ’12, ’13 and ’14. Last year, I swung three times – for two home runs and a double. And in San Diego, I hit a home run. I’m now 4-for-5 on 3-0 counts.
How do I decide to swing or not? The pitcher, the score, where base runners are, who’s hitting behind me.
In San Diego, the situation was: runners on first and third, one out, nothing-nothing game, and a pitcher – Colin Rea — I had never faced but had watched video on. He’s not a guy who has a huge sinker or anything like that, so I wasn’t too concerned about grounding into a double play. He’s a guy who will occasionally elevate his fastball — something you can hit a fly ball off of. So I figured even if I didn’t get all of it, I’d still get a sacrifice fly and score the runner the third. Bum was on deck. Yes, he’s a good-hitting pitcher, but he’s a pitcher. I wanted to do what I could to get the run in myself. I looked for Rea to throw me a fastball, which he did — though it was a borderline ball four. And since I was ready for it, I got it out.
So I don’t know if this stuff is at all interesting to most people, but for those who wonder about our thought process, I’ll share why I swung away the other three times.
Last year, against Jordan Zimmerman, the situation was 2 outs, nobody on, and a light-hitting batter coming up behind me. If I took the walk, there’d be two outs with me on first. I’m not a big basestealer, so somebody was going to have to hit a double to get me home from first. So I went for it. I had never really hit Zimmerman well in the past, but I knew he was going to come after me with fastballs. He doesn’t want to walk anybody. Sure enough, I got an up-and-in fastball and hit it out.
It was a similar situation against Kyle Lohse, also last year. Two outs, runner on first. We’d need an extra base hit to score the runner. Lohse was another guy who, for the most part, was going to come right after you. He doesn’t want to walk me and put a runner on second base with two outs. So I thought it was a good time to swing away. Maybe I’d hit one in the gap and score the runner from first. I hit a HR to center.
The next one was against the Dodgers. Belt was on second with two outs. Mike Bolsinger, a right-hander, was on the mound. We had a right-handed batter after me, so Bolsinger was pitching around me to get to him. I had just taken a couple good curve balls, so I sat on another one and hit a double.
Having said all this, I know if I swing at a 3-0 pitch and ground out, some people will howl – “Why are you swinging on 3-0??’’ But at least you’ll know why.
A Day at the Zoo: Kristen Posey arranged for players and families to go to the San Diego Zoo when we were there. Buster and Kristen’s son, Lee, who is four years old, came into the clubhouse after a game at AT&T the other day.
“Lee, how’d you like the zoo?’’ I asked him.
He lit up. “Yeah! The giraffe drooled on my head!’’
Love that kid. Fits right in with the rest of us.
Thanks for reading. Go Warriors!
There’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with music.
During batting practice last week in San Diego, the Padres – or at least whoever’s in charge of pregame music – had a little fun. The first day of the series, as soon as their own BP ended, the edgy, rappy music stopped. Suddenly, when we took the field, it was all boy bands, ‘90s pop, teeny-bopper pop.
I was smiling because it seemed like they were trying to mess with us. I was standing out at short stop and thinking, “They don’t know what they did. They’re locking me in.’’ They don’t know that we like this stuff. Or at least I do. I hit a home run that night.
The second day of BP, it was all Enya. If you haven’t heard her, the songs are like massage music — for batting practice, it was kind of rough. The third day, they played stuff like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’’ and “It’s Raining Men’’ –kind of girl-power music.
So did we return the favor when they played in SF this week? No, because to be honest I don’t think the music has anything to do with how you play during the game. BUT . . . if I were going to mess with them . . . since it seems they don’t like that ‘90s pop, I’d probably throw on the Sneaky Awesome playlist we listen to every day. Except it really wouldn’t be messing with them because they’d realize they actually like it.
Now that we’re two months into the season, every now and then I run out of ideas of what to play in the clubhouse. So I’ll ask around. Bum and Belt are never afraid to give me a song. Belt’s tastes are all over the place. He’s like me in that way. He’ll go from “I Knew You Were Trouble’’ by Taylor Swift to a punk-rock-scream song by System of a Down to rapper Rick Ross to Luke Bryan.
Bum’s been surprising. He’s requested Rihanna and “Sugar’’ by Robin Schulz. He’s liked the Drake song I’ve put on recently. Not what you’d expect from “Fire on the Mountain’’ Bum.
I have other random things to share, which I will. But I’m going to post this and finish the rest in a little while.
By the way, pretty good week so far all around, isn’t it? Happy flight to Denver yesterday.
So Crawford and Belt are handing over their blog to me for a day. Apparently they had to vote on it. Crawford was fine. Belt wasn’t so sure. But he ended up giving 1 percent approval, which he explained made for a 51 percent majority vote.
It’s funny the impressions you have of players when you’re playing against them. A week or so into spring training, Matt Cain came up to me and said, “You didn’t think we were like this, did you?’’
He was right. When I was with the Nationals, I thought the Giants were a very serious group of guys, that they didn’t have as much fun as a lot of other teams. They seemed a little tight, like they did everything by the book.
It’s the complete opposite. This team has a very dry sense of humor. A guy like Cain, who has his game face on when he’s pitching, is actually a real jokester. He’s always sending me funny text messages, just messing with me. I never thought Buster had much personality, but in the clubhouse he’s always joking around. I would never have expected that. Crawford is sneaky funny. He’ll throw a jab here and there, catch you off guard.
That’s what makes this team who they are, why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. They’re serious on the field and lighthearted off it.
My locker is next to Hunter’s so I’ve had more intense talks with him than with anyone else. We talk about competing, about being a winner, about having that mindset. He’s very analytical when it comes to stuff like that. He’s a deep thinker. The other thing about Hunter is how much he cares about his teammates as people. He’s always checking in with me and making sure everything’s going OK in my world, that my head’s where it needs to be. I appreciate that.
The other thing you can’t really appreciate until you actually become a Giant is the energy at this ballpark. Opening Day – I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. Craziness. Pandemonium. Just unreal. Walking in from center field with all those kids was awesome. We walked around the stadium and fans were giving us high-fives. I didn’t know much about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Man, this is the real deal, which made Opening Day all the more fun and crazy.
Here’s a photo of my mom with a Giants fan on Opening Day.
And what a game. As Boch said, it was like two games in one. What I noticed in the dugout was how calm everyone was during all the three-up, three-down innings. There wasn’t a hint of panic. We just chipped away and before you knew it the momentum switched to our side and we just took off. What I loved was how many different ways we attacked, from Kelby’s perfect bunt to Hunter’s grand slam. This is a seriously dangerous lineup.
One question I get a lot is about my batting stance. My front (right) foot is turned so far inward that my heel is almost facing the pitcher’s mound. I do that because my body instinctively wants to pull the ball instead of staying squared up. So I turn my foot to keep my front hip from flying open. That’s my thinking anyway. I’m always tinkering with my swing. I didn’t have a lot of coaching growing up. I’d go to the batting cage and critique myself. I’d try a bunch of things until something felt right. When I was really little, I imitated Darryl Strawberry. I had a VHS tape of him with his high leg kick. He’d kind of drop his hands as his leg came up. I’d do that with my little plastic bat and my little plastic ball.
My mom, Wanda, and my stepdad, Stan, are out here this weekend from Tampa. So is one of my best friends, Wallace, plus an aunt from New York and her daughter who lives near Sacramento.
They went sight-seeing before coming to the games. Here’s my mom with Wallace on the left and my stepdad on the right some where in the city.
Believe me, I could hear all of them cheering every time I came up to bat. After the game on Opening Day, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square. People aren’t recognizing me much, but this morning, as soon as I got into my Uber car, the driver said, “You’re our lead-off hitter, aren’t you?’’
I like how he phrased that: Our leadoff hitter. I’m getting the sense that being a San Francisco Giants is like being part of a family.
OK, Belt, you have the blog back. By the way, just heard about the new contract. Dinner’s on you in Colorado.
So I’m making my first stab at video blogging. This video is pretty rough, I admit it. We overloaded the iPhone so had to stop in the middle, delete a bunch of stuff to free up storage and start up again. We’ll get better.
This is shot this afternoon (Saturday) in the dugout after practice.
It’s great to be back on the field with all the guys. And sorry, Crawford, for posting on the same day . . . But I had to get my picks out before the Oscars tomorrow.
Thanks for watching. Really, this will get better.
By the way, think it’s time to update our photos over there on the right side? [Updated: DONE…take a look.]
Back in the day The Catch meant Joe Montana to Dwight Clark.
Before that The Catch meant Willie Mays.
This is the modern day The Catch.
People might say I look stupid, but I’d like to call that play athletic. That was an athletic play by the first baseman. My teammates said the same thing. “You are such an athlete out there!’’ they said, though I think they were being sarcastic.
What happened was, I misread how hard the ball was hit. So I was getting ready to jump and I realized the ball wasn’t there yet, so I was turning and turning and finally I went up on one leg. Wotus said I looked like I was part of the Russian ballet.
I caught it, and that’s all that matters. But in truth, I felt so stupid that I just got the giggles. I couldn’t stop laughing. I saw it on the big screen right after. It was just as bad as I thought. I was all sprawled out. My legs all over the place. But . . . I caught it.
Remember those signs from a few years ago that said, “Keep Brandon Awkward’’? There you go. Done.
It just so happens that Melissa wrote in to share her own awkward moment. She went to shake hands with someone who put out his fist for a fist bump. She ended up grasping the guy’s fist. Melissa, I’ve done that many times. It’s even better when you do it on purpose to people. Then it’s funny. And if you didn’t do it on purpose, act like you did. You go in for the fist bump then you open your hand for the fist hug.
Another question from the comments: Am I stressed in left field? No, not really. Our left field is a little tricky because the wind blows so much, but I don’t get too stressed about it. I’m capable of making the plays out there. Nobody expects me to make the really good plays, so if I do it, it’s great! The truth is I’ve made some pretty good plays out there. I even surprise myself sometimes. If I played out there all the time, I think I’d be just fine.
Another question: Was I bummed I wasn’t part of turkey tap scandal at the White House? Well, they stole the idea from me, so I think I’m part of every single one. I get plenty in, so it’s OK.
It was fun but very busy playing in Texas. You want to see everybody and talk to everybody you can. I feel bad if I don’t get to everybody. We organized about 25 tickets for a bunch of people — I put that off on Haylee. I don’t have time. And there were a lot of people who didn’t ask for tickets who came to the games.
It’s been awhile since a lot of those people had seen Greyson, so he was way more the focus of attention than I was. He’s moving around so much now, so it was great having lots of people to take care of him.
He’s not walking yet but he is a major crawler. He loves dog food. We’ve had to put the dog food in the pantry because he likes to grab it and eat it. When he found out where we’d put it, he went right to it, so we always have to make sure the pantry door is closed tight. He’ll take a big handful and try to shove it in his mouth, but so far we’ve always caught him. I tasted it to see what he’s so excited about. It’s really bland. But I think he just wants to chew on something.
Other than the dog food, he’s awesome.
He’ll be a year old in two weeks. He loves the show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I think we’ll have a Mickey Mouse party for him in the family room at the field. Every time the Mickey Mouse Club theme song comes on he’s moving and smiling. I downloaded it to my phone so I can play for it. I hope we can get our moms out from Texas for the party. Got to have the grandmas here!
We just bought him a new toy, a tunnel that leads to a pool of plastic balls. It’s in the living room with the rest of the toys. It’s like an amusement park in there. I’m trying to post a video but it’s not working. I’ll do it when I figure it out.
Thanks for reading — keep the questions coming!
Rough series in Miami. We never seem to play the Marlins very well. I’m not sure what it is. A lot of people asked me about Carter Capps, the Marlins reliever who drags his foot off the rubber before he throws the pitch. And he throws 100. I’ve hit against him twice and seen six pitches, all strikes. I swung at five. Didn’t make contact once. It’s hard to pick up the ball. In my last at-bat, I swung at two sliders that I think bounced in front of the plate. His strange delivery is legal, I’m told, because he doesn’t push off again after he leaves the rubber. It’s all arm. I don’t know how you learn to pitch like that or how stressful that must be on an arm.
One of the things that’s special about this Giants team — and you’ve heard me say this before — is no matter how things are going for us, we stick together. Staying connected is really important for the type of guys we have on this team. For instance — and I’m not sure when it started — but before every game I shake hands or fist-bump every player and coach on the team, including the relievers heading out to the bullpen. We have all kinds of crazy handshakes. One isn’t even a handshake. Shawon Dunston, one of our coaches, once came up to me and clapped me simultaneously on the chest and back, so that’s our thing now, with him saying, “Let’s go, Barry Larkin!’’ (his nickname for me.) You have to be a little cautious with the starting pitcher, especially if it’s Vogey. I might give him just a light fist tap, which he’ll accept with a kind of “don’t bother me’’ look. (I have no crazy handshake with Buster. He’s not into it.)
The point is we make an effort to remind each other that we’re in this together. On the road, when we have time for dinner, a bunch of us end up going out together. I’m sure we’ll do that tomorrow night for July 4th. We play here at 11 a.m. so we have plenty of time to meet for dinner. No definite plans yet but usually somebody will start inviting people and it ends up being most of the team. Maybe even Belt will come. Sometimes he goes off on his own to a movie without telling anyone. We’ll probably watch fireworks from the hotel.
Answers to your questions!
When you are on the road, who watches the kids when you and Jalynne go out? Do you have help on the road? The only time we’ll go out is if family comes with us to watch the girls. But even then, usually we don’t go out. Jalynne brings the girls so I can see them, which means I want to have dinner with them. Jalynne’s twin sister, Janelle, and her husband and baby joined us in Miami because we had an off day there on Monday. But we all ate together. Jannelle and her family are going to move in with us this month and stay for the rest of the season to help with the girls and keep Jalynne company.
Do you guys eat out every meal, or do they feed you in the clubhouse when you are on the road? They feed us in the clubhouse — and we eat out. Depends on the time of the game. Today we have a 6 p.m. game, so I went to the mall next to the hotel for lunch with Buster. Then we’ll eat something in the clubhouse after the game.
Any outstanding restaurants you would recommend? Capitol Grille is always a good spot. There’s one of those in almost every city we go to, it seems. The truth is I’m not very picky.
I saw on Strickland’s Instagram that Heston bought a bottle of Blue Label for everyone on the team after his no-hitter. . . . Are you a big whiskey guy? Blue Label is definitely a treat for a whiskey fan. I’m not a big drinking guy in general. I’ve never tried Blue Label, but I might have to now for Heston. Cain got us watches for his perfect game in 2012. It’s nice of the pitchers to acknowledge us.
How early are players supposed to get to the park before the game? For a 7:15 game I get to the park at 2:15 so there’s time to get treatment in the training room and work out before batting practice, which is around 4:30.
Did Morse get any flack for his plaid jacket? He doesn’t really surprise us with any of his outfits, so I don’t even remember the plaid jacket.
Has Jalynne ever taught you some gymnastics moves? With some of the amazing plays you make at shortstop, I joke that, “Well, his wife was a gymnast at UCLA, he probably picked up some moves.” lol! She’s told me the names of a couple of the moves that look like something I’ve done on the field. She didn’t teach me any of them, though.
Do you, Belt, and Panik (I suppose Duffy too!) hang out at all outside of games/practice? Seems like you three are pretty close, especially with the Crawnik infield, chemistry-wise. We’re all close, and we do go out on the road when there’s time. I’m not sure it adds to our chemistry. Marco Scutaro and I had great chemistry and we never hung out off the field. I think we all know each other pretty well just by being teammates. Maybe we hang out because we’re all in the same age range, though somebody reminded me earlier this season that I’m oldest of the infielders. I’m 28. Belt’s 27, Joe’s 25 and Duffy’s 24. And Buster’s 2 months younger than me.
I was curious of how you got to the Oracle Stadium so fast after just finishing a game, get cleaned up, drive over. Good maneuvering through traffic.
How did you get so good at hitting? Did the Giants recommend any batting mechanics changes when you were coming up the farm system? Is there a Giants Way for hitting? There were definitely a lot of recommendations, which happens with anybody who struggles in the minor leagues. I’m sure even Buster got recommendations a couple of times, though nothing drastic, I’m sure. But I got plenty. I changed my batting stance a few times, for example. You just kind of have to find what works for you. You piece everything together and just make it your own because there’s no single approach that works for everybody. There’s no Giants Way. The coaches are really good at recognizing that every player is different, every swing is different.
I use video to watch pitchers before facing them. You can look at a scouting report and see he’s got a fastball, slider, change-up. But you want to see what his pitches are doing. And you want to look at what he throws in different situations. Once the game starts, you don’t think about it a whole lot. You just kind of react. But at least you have a better plan going in.
I also watch my own at-bats sometimes, though at this point there isn’t anything drastic I’m going to see. Every now and then you’ll see something small you need to adjust. Fortunately there hasn’t been a whole lot of that this year. Recently, though, I’ve been doing something that Bam-Bam found on film that I didn’t see. It’s great to have another set of eyes.
Can you confirm Baggs’ statement about Belt never wearing a protective cup?
It’s true. Not all players wear cups. Most outfielders don’t because they don’t get ground balls that are going to take a bad hop. The infielders who don’t wear them either REALLY trust their hands or they’ve never been hit there.
I’ve always wondered if the bat boys traveled with you? No. The home team provides bat boys.
Was the team surprised that there seemed to be as many Giants fans as there were Mariner fans when you played in Seattle? Yes, we were really surprised. We never get that kind of applause in batting practice — even at home! We were walking out to stretch and getting a standing ovation from half the crowd. It was crazy. We don’t go to Seattle very often so maybe all the Giants fans in the area came out.
I started this post yesterday and didn’t get back to it. So I’ll try to finish this morning and see if it can get posted before game time. (I don’t post them myself.) Day games after night games are kind of rushed. Always such a fast turnaround. You sleep and then you’re back on the freeway heading again to the park. BUT . . . it’s great weather today, a sell-out crowd and we’re playing baseball. No complaints.
I’m a huge Warriors fan, and Jalynne and I were lucky enough to go to the game Sunday night. Getting a hold of tickets isn’t the easiest thing, but my agent used to work with Bob Meyers, the Warriors’ GM, so that was my connection. We raced over to Oakland after our game and got there around 5. It was cool to get kind of the VIP treatment. We parked in the special access lot — pulling in right behind Floyd Mayweather. At the security entrance, he was waiting for his whole posse to get together, so he told Jalynne and me to go ahead of him. Pretty cool.
We had great seats — directly across from the Warriors bench, 20 rows up. It was fun just to be a fan — to be one of the watchers instead of a guy being watched. Curry has to be the most fun athlete I’ve ever watched. What impressed me about him is what impresses everyone about Curry — his quick ball handling, his vision on the court and then how quick his shot is — it’s unbelievable. When you don’t think he’s able to get a shot off, he not only gets it off, he makes it.
And then LeBron. I don’t know if people grasp how big he is if you’ve only seen him on TV. He’s so big and he’s so quick. I think that’s why he’s able to make things look so easy. He’s able to back you down, but if give him too much room, he can blow by you, too, because he’s that quick. At one point I looked up at the scoreboard stats and he had something like 8 assists, 20 points and 8 rebounds — he almost had a triple double at halftime! And everyone else on the team had zero assists.
We’ll be on a plane to Seattle tonight during the game. I hope we land in time to watch the second half. We’ll all have our iPads and headsets on while we’re riding the bus to the hotel. Let’s hope they clinch tonight.
OK, should we talk turkey taps? Seems to have attracted a bit of attention after our White House visit and Matt Duffy doubled over. It was from a sneak attack by Cain, who landed the punch as he passed by. Some people who saw it on TV thought it was me because I was standing next to Duffy. I’d have to have really flexible Inspector Gadget arms to reach Duffy. And the evidence is stacked against Cain. When Morse was here, Cain gave him a little reach-around on camera. I put a clip of it on Twitter. He and Belt lead the team in turkey taps. It happens a lot when there’s a big group because you can’t really tell who’s doing it. I do get Belt a lot, but he’s gotten better at blocking it, so it’s not so fun anymore. Why do we do it? I don’t know. We have a lot of characters on this team who like to keep things fun and relaxed.
Turkey tap aside, it was really an honor to go to the White House again. Not many people get to go inside and meet the president. We took a train to Philly after that. I wish we could travel more by train. We had a chartered train to Philly, which means we had a whole train to ourselves. I think it was four or five cars. One car was for players who didn’t have their wives on the trip. Another car for players with their families, then the dining car and the coaches up font.Unlike flying, as soon as everybody boards the train, we leave. On a plane, it seem like it’s an hour before the plan takes off. I’m sure it’s making sure the plane is safe, but it was a nice break to take the train. We took it from Philly to New York, too.
In New York, Jalynne and I decided to see a play on the off day, Monday, but not many theaters are open on Mondays. We went to Phantom of the Opera along with Chad Chop and his wife, and Hunter and his girlfriend. Hunter had made dinner reservations for all of us but when we found out it was a 20 minute drive there and 20 minutes back — and theater was just a five-minute walk from our hotel — the Chops and Jalynne and I decided to play it safe and just grab dinner nearby so we wouldn’t be late for the show. We ended up having pizza across from the theater. We’re not picky, so it was perfect for us. In New York, you’re supposed to get pizza anyway.
We had a hitters’ meeting before the game today. Nobody’s freaking out. It’s baseball. It’s a long season. We’ll get it going. This happened last year in June, too. Everybody wasn’t hitting all at the same time. Last year ended up all right.
Thanks for reading. Next blog: I’ll answer your questions. Keep them coming
Wish we could have kept the win streak going so Willie Mays could have had a happier birthday. But with 10 wins in the last 14 games, we’re climbing out of the hole we dug for ourselves last month.
I didn’t get a hit today, but with my 3-for-3 yesterday my batting average is higher right now than my career average, and somehow I’m leading the team in home runs and RBIs. I’m pretty confident I will not be holding that spot when the season’s over. I know my strength is defense, but I always expect to contribute at the plate, too. I know it’s in me to hit higher than .250.
So, like every hitter in here, I’m always trying to make myself better. So last month, when — despite the home runs — I found myself swinging and missing more than usual, I needed to figure out why. I realized I was getting a lot more off-speed pitches than usual. It started with that first series on the road against the Padres. I had seen mostly fastballs in our season-opening series against Arizona. So when the Padres went with mostly off-speed stuff, I wasn’t really prepared. Then other teams started doing it, too.
Usually, about 60 percent of the pitches I’d see would be fastballs. I knew I wasn’t seeing that many, so I went and looked it up. Sure enough, fewer than 50 percent of the pitches were fastballs.
So I had to adjust. I had to get better at handling off-speed pitches. It’s tough to practice that, though, because in almost every batting practice you’re seeing only fastballs. You can program the pitching machine in the batting cage to throw whatever you want, but I don’t find it really useful. You know the pitch is coming and you can just sit on it. You get into that rhythm, and it’s not realistic. Although . . . having said that, I am sitting on the change-up or curveball more. And if I get a fastball, I can still try to take it.
Chad Chop has helped me get better. He’s one of our batting practice pitchers. He joined the Giants last year, and he’s little younger and stronger than the other ones we have. So I’ve gotten him to mix the pitches up to me. He’ll toss in a change-up or curve among the fastballs. And he’s a lefty. It’s probably why I’m hitting left-handed pitchers better.
Glad to see my fellow Brandon get his rhythm back, as he talked about in his blog post this week. He went 2-for-3 today, crushing a double and triple to the wall, and is 6-for-13 with four doubles and one triple in his last four games. He knows I carried Team Brandon (our hitting group) last month. I told him he had to step up in May. I’m happy I could give him the motivation he needed.
Thanks for coming out to all the games and sticking with us through a rough month. It’s a long season, and I think sometimes people — even in baseball — lose sight of that.
And thanks for reading!
Sorry I haven’t blogged much. When the team’s struggling, and you’re not helping to score any runs, there’s not much to say. You don’t want to sound all cheerful and happy because it wouldn’t be real. But you don’t want to make too much of a dry spell, either, because you know it’s going to pass.
Having said that, few things are worse for a hitter than opening the season and falling almost immediately into a slump. You haven’t built up any numbers yet. There’s no cushion in your batting average to absorb the dip in production. All you see is the dip. So everything just looks brutal. If you slump in the middle of the season, it doesn’t hit your average as hard.
For me, like most players, hitting is all about rhythm. When I get into a good rhythm, I can stay on a good streak for a long while. I was on a great streak coming out of spring training. The groin injury the first week of the season put me on the sidelines for a few days. You never think you’re going to be affected by an interruption like that, but hitting is such a complex thing, physically and mentally. One thing is a little bit off, and suddenly you’re struggling.
But it’s part of baseball. It happens. You know you’ll get out of it. But it’s never as quick as you want. I’m happy to be swinging the bat well again. I’m seeing the ball. I feel good out there. I know if I keep hitting the ball hard enough, good things will happen.
What matters most is that, as a team, we’re turning things around. We’re winning again and climbing up the standings, which all of us knew would happen. It’s in our DNA. And soon we’ll be getting some big guys back — Hunter, Cain, Peavy — and that will be a huge lift.
We have our batting groups again this year, and again we have Team Brandon. There are three groups, and I’m the captain of one of them. So in the draft I’m pretty much obligated to pick Crawford first. I haven’t looked at the standings for April yet, but I know he helped us a lot with his home runs. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m sorry I have no movie reviews. With Greyson, who is now eight months and desperate to start walking already, I’m not going out a lot. I want to spend every minute I can with him. I wanted to go to the movies in Colorado and just never did. I bought I Love You, Man in the hotel. I’ve seen it a hundred times and still think it’s hilarious. But I fell asleep and didn’t finish it. The life of a new Dad, I guess. Haylee and Greyson will go to Houston with me, and Haylee will head to Lufkin for a little while. She will be very happy to get some help from the grandparents.
Thanks for reading. And ask some questions so I have something to write about!