Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
Games haven’t started but there have been 150, maybe 200, people at Scottsdale Stadium just to watch practice. I guess coming off a World Series championship, we should have expected good crowds, but you’re still surprised to get that kind of support. I heard when Madison walked off the mound yesterday after pitching BP, he got a big round of applause. (I wasn’t in that hitting group, so I didn’t have to face him.)
Nori Aoki is in my group, so I’m starting to get to know him a little. His English isn’t very good, though it’s much better than my Japanese. He clearly has a good sense of humor. We’ve been hitting him fourth in the group because we tell him he has the big power. He laughs and says, “Big guy! Big power!’’
I’ve been around new third-baseman Casey McGehee since before camp officially started. We took grounders on the back practice field together. There’s not much a shortstop and third-baseman need to do as far as adjusting to each other. I just need to get a read on what his range is on balls to his left. After just a few ground balls over there, I’ll be able to read it pretty well.
Communication between a shortstop and third-baseman isn’t as involved as between a shortstop and second-baseman. Casey already has asked if I’d give him a head’s up on breaking balls. (From my position, I can see what pitch the catcher is calling, and the third-baseman can’t.) Pablo wanted a head’s up, also, on breaking balls. I alert them by just making a little noise. I don’t know exactly how it affects their positioning, but maybe they’re a little more ready down the line.
People ask if we come into spring training focused on improving any particular facet of our game. I really don’t. The only thing I want to improve, overall throughout the season, is consistency. I’ve had a lot of hot streaks and cold streaks in my career, which happens to everybody in baseball. So it’s a matter of keeping the cold streaks as short as possible.
So how do I do that? That’s the big question, right? I have to recognize more quickly when there’s something I need to change. I went through two bad months last season — July and August — before I realized I my hands were all over the place. I don’t know if I was getting tired or trying to do too much, but I would kind of lose track of where I was holding them from at-bat to at-bat. They’d get too high. Too far back. And I’d get trapped. I wasn’t as direct to the ball.
So in September, I began again to do that little tap on my shoulder, which I did throughout 2013. It reminds me where my hands need to be — lower and closer to my body. And I had a great September.
Everything’s good with the girls. Jaydyn’s walking (she’s almost 1). And Braylyn’s crazy, running around all over the place (she’s 2). She goes to the gym with Jalynne and does some toddler gymnastics. But we think she’s going to be too tall for gymnastics, though. She’s in the 80th percentile of height and weight for her age, so she’s projected to be around 5-feet-8 or -9.
Check in tomorrow or the next day for a special guest blog from the third Brandon. He has a new look, inspired by someone he admires and clearly wants desperately to emulate . . .
So where was I? Oh, right. August 13. We were 4.5 games behind the Dodgers. We had lost five in a row before finally beating the White Sox.
A lot has happened since then.
You might have seen it.
Belt, Gregor Blanco and I stopped blogging when the team was struggling so much mid-season. And then we started to win. Not that blogging had anything to do with anything. But we figured we’d just focus on winning and, well, you know the rest.
Now that the season is over, and I’ve had a month to rest — sort of (more on that later) — I’m blogging again.
First, I’m really happy for Bum getting SI’s Sportsman of the Year. I haven’t read the story yet, but I hear he sounds a bit like Paul Bunyan. Bum apparently tells the tale of hacking up a snake during spring training last year and finding two baby jackrabbits inside it still alive. I had heard Hunter tell that story when MLB network asked us to do our best impression of Bum. The story was so outrageous I assumed Hunter had made it up. I guess not. Only Bum.
Nothing fazed him the entire postseason — so much so that it was almost kind of weird after Game 5 of the World Series. He had just thrown a complete game shutout in the WORLD SERIES and it was like, “Oh, just another day.’’ Like it was the Diamondbacks in June. I think I was more excited than he was. During the season, you’d see him give a fist-pump after a third out every once in a while. I don’t remember any of that in the World Series.
One thing that wasn’t in the SI story was Bum’s obsession with his hair during the postseason. Every day he was scheduled to pitch, or if there was going to be introductions, you’d know it just by the way his hair looked when he walked into the clubhouse. It was all curly and perfect. His wife Ali gelled it and scrunched it at home then sprayed it to keep it in place. You could whack Bum on the back and he wouldn’t bat an eye, but don’t go anywhere near the hair. He was real sensitive.
I’m also really happy for Joe Panik getting the Gibby (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) Award for his diving stop and glove flip to me at second for the double play in Game 7 of the World Series. I’ve probably watched the replay 50 times. It’s on a commercial on MLB network, so that was a few dozen times right there. And I watched it on MLB.com’s Statcast. It shows that Joe went 18.5 feet to get the ball and flipped it to me in .83 seconds. I released it in .77 seconds and threw it 72 mph to get Eric Hosmer at first. Pretty cool information that we usually don’t see. And pretty cool for me just to relive it.
I’m at home in Arizona now. We spent about a week after the season in the Bay Area with my family then spent time in LA with Jalynne’s family and took Braylyn to Disneyland for the first time. (We bought a season pass, so there is more Disneyland in my future. We’re going again in a week to take my niece.) We were back in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving then finally settled back into our house in Arizona — without either set of grandparents or siblings to help with the girls.
As tired as I was at the end of the World Series — mentally as much as physically — let me tell you that two children under two years old is more exhausting than baseball. They’re nonstop. Our first week in Arizona, I was drained every day. Jalynne managed to schedule them to nap at the same time, so we have a small window of time in the middle of the day to catch our breath.
I took a month off from working out and started up again about a week ago at the Giants minor league facility. I did pretty light workouts but was still ridiculously sore the next day.
I haven’t seen many guys since the season ended, but I’ve been in touch more with Javy Lopez than anyone because we’re co-owners in Fantasy Football. Now that I think about it, just about all contact I’ve had with guys is about Fantasy Football. I think we’re all taking a break from baseball in general. It will be starting up again soon enough. Right now is time for family.
We’ll be spending Christmas in LA with Jalynne’s family. Christmas is a lot different when you have kids – way more fun. Hope all of you have great holidays with your families and friends. Thanks for reading and for all the amazing support you gave us through the entire season. Loved seeing everyone at the parade. I promise to post again soon! And I’ll try to get Belt back on here, too!
I know the last two days against the Dodgers haven’t shown it, and we’re dealing with injuries to key guys, but we feel really strong starting the second half of the season. That 14-inning game in Philadelphia told you everything you need to know about this team: We battle. It’s kind of our signature since at least the 2012 post-season. Whether we’re struggling through a few-week stretch or a six-hour game, we fight.
I was happy to get that double in the top of the 14th to put us ahead. But I would have been happy with anybody getting a hit at that point. I received a lot of the credit after the game, but Buster’s home run in the ninth to tie the game was just as big or bigger than mine. Papelbon hadn’t given up a home run all season. And the bullpen was awesome — eight innings and they gave up only one run.
I’ve joked — well, I’m actually kind of serious — about wanting to pitch sometime in a game. But I knew Bochy had to go with Colvin or Blanco if the Phillies had tied it up in the bottom of the 14th and we went to the 15th. There were no position players left on the bench, so Timmy — who pitched the 14th — would have had to stay in the game and play the field. There’s no way Bochy could let me pitch and put Timmy at shortstop. He’d have to play in the outfield, so that meant either Colvin or Blanco would have to pitch. Luckily, it didn’t come to that.
You might have read about the virus or whatever that’s been lingering in the clubhouse for what seems like months now. I’ve had it at least a month if not more, and it’s finally gone. I think Miami shook it out of me. Or maybe it was the All-Star break. I spent the break very quietly, as I mentioned I would in my last post. I saw my grandma one day. Another day we went to Buster’s to hang out and let the kids play. Braylyn, who’s a year and a half, is still a little new to playing with other kids because she hasn’t had many opportunities. But she was good with Buster and Kristen’s twins, who are three. Javy and Renee Lopez were also there with their two kids — their son is almost two and their daughter is four, I think. (I’m not good at guessing ages.) Braylyn would go play with something and want to play by herself. Then she’d join the other kids. She loved the pool. Buster grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was just a really great, relaxing summer day. When you have so few off days, you really appreciate each one, especially the ones that aren’t crammed with errands and appointments.
So since have some down time during All-Star break, I’ve been feeling much better at the plate. My first at-bat in Miami was maybe my best at-bat all season. I stayed in against Eovaldi for 10 pitches before hitting a two-run homer on the 11th pitch, a 97-mph fastball. I was happy to fight off some pretty good pitches then square up like that. I hit balls hard in the series even if they didn’t translate into hits all the time. When I feel like that at the plate, I know the hits will start to come.
Playing the Dodgers this weekend got me thinking about my favorite Dodgers-Giants memories from when I was a kid. I kind of remember the Brian Johnson game in 1997 when he hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning to sweep the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place. I’m pretty sure I was at Candlestick for the game that day, but I was really young so I don’t remember it well.
The moment I really remember from the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is kind of unusual. It was a single at-bat. Bonds was facing Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. It was early in the 2004 season. The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 in the ninth. One out. Runner at first. I was at the game with my dad. Gagne was throwing 100 mph fastballs, one after another. Every player not on the field hung over the dugout rails watching power against power.
Bonds fouled the first pitch past the Dodgers dugout.
Then he took a called strike inside — 99 mph.
Ball inside — 100 mph.
Foul into the stands behind the plate.
Towering foul into McCovey Cove off a 101-mph fastball.
Then Gagne threw another fastball — 100 mph this time. Bonds hit it into the center field bleachers.
I thought, “Wow.’’ Bonds just kept battling. The Giants lost, but I’ll never forget that at-bat.
(Full disclosure: I looked up the exact pitch sequence. I didn’t remember every single pitch.)
What’s your favorite Giants-Dodgers moment?
July 27, 2014
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!
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!
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.
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.
First, thanks for all the replies! Beyond all expectations.
I was nice enough to keep Hunter updated on the tally. It was the least I could do to show my appreciation for his pinch-blog. And you’re right — he ought to get his own blog. He was hilarious. I’d read a Hunter Pence blog every single day. Not just because he’s funny, but he really is unlike anyone I know. For example, as much as he’s struggling at the plate, you’d never know it in the clubhouse or the dugout. The guy always has so much energy and is always pumping everyone else up. Every kid who plays any sport ought to study Hunter. He’s the teammate who makes everyone around him better.
Also, thanks for all the kind notes to Jalynne on her pinch-blog. Wow. She was blown away. She loved reading all the replies. When you’re as busy at home as she is, it’s really nice to connect with so many people and receive so much appreciation. Every wife and mother ought to have a chance to hear what Jalynne got to hear from all of you. It really was a gift.
I had to laugh about Belt bragging in his post about his walk-off home run. Whatever one Brandon does, we all do. I’m all for that, though I’m betting he won’t be saying much when I have an oh-fer.
By the way, thanks to those who posted gifs of the homer so I can watch it whenever I want. Only on my phone, of course. So no one sees what I’m doing. Especially Belt.
Jalynne and the girls were in Los Angeles and San Diego with me. Both babies are sleeping better, which makes for a happier household all around. We got Jaydyn’s acid reflux under control. Jalynne has had to modify what she eats, and we got some medicine, too.
And Braylyn seems to have settled down from the excitement (trauma?) of having this new creature in the family that everyone fusses over. Before Jaydyn was born, we had pretty good luck with just rocking her to sleep. But then that didn’t work. She was fidgety the whole time we rocked her. We’d put her down for her nap and she’d fight it so bad that we could barely stand it. Now she’ll just whine a little bit and settle down.
There are some upsides to Braylyn waking up in the middle of the night, though. The other night I was walking and rocking her, but she still didn’t go to sleep. I was so tired of standing with her — she’s getting heavy! — that I just laid down on the floor in her room. (There’s not much in there except a crib, as you learned from Jalynne’s post about how simply we live during the season.) As I laid there, she fell asleep on my chest. Is there a better feeling for a dad? I didn’t want to get up.
It’s kind of tough now for me because we put Braylyn down for a nap around 1 p.m. and I leave for the park at 1:30. So when I put her down, I’m basically saying, “Good night, I’ll see you tomorrow’’ because she’s asleep when I get home. The great part, though, is when she sees me the next morning she is wild with happiness, as if I’ve been away for a year.
Off to the park to face the Rockies. We’ve got to get our bats going and support our great pitchers. It’ll happen. I hope it’s tonight.
P.S. I asked Bam about the points for a walk-off home run. He said it was only five extra points. I think that means it’s 15 or 20 points total. I told him he needs to add at least a point for the splash landing. He said he would :)
I know my husband said enough with the pinch-blogging, but he told me some fans have asked if Haylee Belt and I would write about life as the wife of a Major Leaguer. We both agreed. I’m up first. I think Haylee will write tomorrow.
I’m not sure what would be interesting or where to start, so I’ll begin by telling you what we did on the off day Monday. These off-days, especially when they’re during home stands, are so precious. Believe it or not, even though it’s only April, we’ll have just one more off day at home for the rest of the season.
On Monday Brandon and I went for massages in the morning. Just the two of us while my mom took care of our two baby girls. Then we took Braylyn to the park. She loved having us to herself without the distraction of her new sister! Then we had a date night — dinner and a movie (“Noah,’’ which was entertaining). A perfect day.
I don’t go to every game. It’s not easy with the babies, and the truth is I like watching the games on TV. I can be a real fan, yelling and cheering as wildly as I want. I feel like I’m supposed to be a bit more proper when I’m sitting the Giants’ family section.
I was at last night’s game, but I left in the 12th and missed Brandon scoring the winning run! I gave myself a deadline of midnight (like Cinderella, except unlike Cinderella I hurried off because I’m nursing and was about ready to burst). My mom and I bundled up the babies, headed across the Bay Bridge and cheered in the car when Hector drove in Brandon to beat the Dodgers.
We’re living in the East Bay again this season. Our permanent home is in Arizona. We chose that because in baseball you never know where you might be playing. In Arizona, we can be pretty certain about living in one place from at least November to April every year.
We’ve rented four places in four seasons. We get an unfurnished house and furnish it with the few pieces of furniture we keep in storage during the off-season. We live very simply. We still have the couch Brandon’s parents gave us when he was first called up. We have a kitchen table and chairs. We have mattresses. And we have two TVs. Not much else. We put it back in storage at the end of the season and when the next one rolls around, we take it out again and put it in the next rental house.
This is something people might not know about baseball wives. We do a lot of packing and unpacking. A lot. It’s endless. Not just at the beginning and end of the season but road trips throughout the season. I try to make one long road trip a month so we can be together as a family. Our husbands fly on a team charter where their luggage is carried for them from the clubhouse to the plane to the hotel. We fly Southwest with diaper bags and wipes and bottles and clothes and baggies full of Cheerios. Quite the glamorous life, don’t you think?
It IS a wonderful life. An incredible blessing. But like everything there are pro’s and con’s. It’s a beautiful thing that I get to stay home and raise my children. The downside is I can’t teach. From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher, and after UCLA I earned my master’s in education at Pepperdine. But if I were to teach, I’d never see my husband. So it’s a little bittersweet.
Sometimes I’m asked if Brandon is different off the field from what they see on TV. Yes and no. He is very funny, which is something I think people have recently discovered about him. Because he’s so shy and quiet, people sometimes miss his great sense of humor. They hear something really sarcastic come out of his mouth and they’re not sure what to make of it. But I think his humor is coming out through his blog, and the beat writers definitely know this about him.
The things that ARE the same on and off the field: He’s super calm, and he’s super competitive. In the eight years we have been together, I have never heard him yell in anger. He can get frustrated when he’s driving sometimes, but that’s it. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone as easy-going as he is.
Having said that, he wants to win at every game he plays. But so do I. You might know I was a competitive gymnast, and I come from a family of athletes. Brandon and I are fierce adversaries at miniature golf, bowling, video games, whatever. He doesn’t take it easy because I’m a girl, nor would I want him to. If I beat him, I want to beat him fair and square. (And now and then, I do. He’s maddeningly good at just about everything.)
On the field, he cares like no other. He has loved baseball since he could walk. I remember seeing a video of him at a year-and-a-half. He was swinging a whiffle bat at a beach ball, and his dad was switching him from right-handed to left-handed and back again, laying the groundwork for switch-hitting. At a year-and-a-half! He feels so lucky every day he puts on a Giants uniform. How many people get to live their dream as fully as Brandon is living his? He truly loves what he does.
The other day when he hit the walk-off home run, he was like a little kid in a candy store. We weren’t at the game because Braylyn was teething and I was still unpacking boxes. We jumped right off the bed! I sent Brandon a video of Braylyn clapping for him. She is such a daddy’s girl. It’s the sweetest thing. It melts my heart.
When Brandon got home, we celebrated by going out for frozen yogurt. As we sat outside the shop, people congratulated him as they walked past. He’s still so shy that he’s a bit uncomfortable with the attention. But I can tell you he will never take your good wishes for granted. We both know this wonderful time in his life won’t last forever, so we appreciate every moment.
OK, that’s it. Have I gone on too long? Sorry if I have. I want you to know that Brandon and I read every single comment, and we are just blown away — especially with the burst of comments this week! Wow! I wish he could reply but there is just not enough time. Thank you for being there for him every day!
OK, Haylee, your turn!