Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
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!
You remember the first day of school when you were a kid? (If you’re a kid reading this: Remember September?) You have new stuff, right out of the box. Shirts, shoes, backpack, notebook.
It’s kind of the same at the start of the season.
My new cleats arrived Monday, two days before we left Arizona. They’re not just new cleats, though. I got to design them. I have a Nike contract so they give me money to use however I want on their Nike site. So I’ve designed my own shoe. It’s surprising how many color and pattern choices go into designing a shoe.
There’s the top of the shoe, the sides, the back, the swoosh, the sole, the tongue, the laces. You can choose a color for your number and name on the side. In the past, the only option was solid colors but this year they have a graphic option. I don’t know how to describe it so I’m including a photo here of my home shoe (left), road shoe (middle) and batting practice shoe (right).
MLB says the shoe has to be 51 percent black. I know these don’t necessarily look like there’s 51 percent black but that’s just because the orange stands out so much.
Usually you need just two pairs of cleats in a season since you’re alternating road and home. I might make more, though, because it’s pretty fun. I might make a pair that has more black since we have the black jerseys this year.
I have a new glove, too, which I’ve been using all spring. This one came out of the box already pretty broken in. That happens sometimes. It arrives and you can play catch right away. Other times they’re really hard. Do I use the same glove all season? If it’s doing its job, it’ll stick around.
I also get new batting gloves. The manufacturer sent me four different color combos, three of each, so I have 12 pairs. They’ll send me more throughout the season. How long does a pair of batting gloves last? Depends on how well you’re hitting and how fast they tear. If you’re hitting well, and there’s a hole in them, you stick with them.
We had a great time at the Play Ball lunch today at the Hilton. Here’s a photo of the table set up for Belt, Justin Maxwell, Jean Machi and me. That long line in the background? That’s all the people waiting for Buster and Madison.
We did get some people in our line, though.
I think the strangest thing I signed was the lining of a guy’s sports coat. That was a first. I should have taken a picture of that.
Thanks for reading!
In the clubhouse. The topic: TV binge watching.
Belt: You ever seen Walking Dead?
Crawford: You’ve asked me that, like, a hundred times.
Belt: I ask everybody so I don’t know who I asked.
Crawford: You’ve told me to watch that already. But I probably won’t.
Belt: It’s not really about zombies. Once you get into it, it’s the drama about them staying alive. The zombies are always going to be a part of it but it’s kind of like an outside thing.
Crawford: Is it like Zombieland?
Crawford: Then I’m not watching it.
Belt: I liked Zombieland, too. Everything was about the zombies in Zombieland. You seen Orange is the New Black?
Crawford: I’m on Season 1.
Belt: At first, I was thinking, I don’t get this show. Then I really liked it.
Crawford: The first episode I watched, I thought, Oh, this could be pretty interesting.
Crawford: Gross. I watched a few more episodes and watched all of them. Way better than zombies.
Belt: I’m telling you, I was totally opposed to watching Walking Dead, too. Everybody was telling me about it. They couldn’t shut up about it. So I watched two or three episodes and I couldn’t stop. I love binge-watching. I love it to death. I hate it when it’s over.
Crawford: I know.I want to watch, like, three episodes in a row. But I find that I’m much more tired at night now than I was in the past. Nine o’clock comes around, I’m ready to go to bed. Unfortunately the girls aren’t ready.
Belt: This off season (the first with a baby), we were in bed every night at 8. I didn’t go to sleep but we were in bed watching TV. Just enjoying the entertainment. It’s so great.
Crawford: Jalynne and I will watch Breaking Bad if we’re actually both awake and the girls are asleep. We’re on Season 2. It’s kind of our new “together’’ show because at the end of last year we finished three shows all around the same time: Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother and Dexter.
Belt: I started watching Dexter all over again. I think it’s a genius show — about a serial killer who kills serial killers! What can get better than that?
Crawford: I think it’s interesting how many shows nowadays have, like, the main character doing bad things but in a good way. Like you’re rooting for the bad guy, kind of.
Belt: The lesser of two evils.
Crawford: He can’t help himself from killing so he kills bad people.
Belt: Right, without his code he would be a straight-up serial killer. He’s just lucky he got that code when he was young.
Crawford: Breaking Bad, he’s producing meth to make money for his family. Which, I feel like he has a good amount of money already in Season 2, so he could have stopped.
Belt: All I’m watching right now is Walking Dead so I can’t binge.
Crawford: You’re caught up?
Belt: Yeah. It sucks.
Crawford: When I was down in the Dominican (rookie league), they showed Law and Order, CSI and Lost. One episode a week. They had it on repeat. So for week a straight they had one show on reruns. and the next week they’d do another episode.
Belt: Man, that’d really suck.
OK, now that we re-read this, it is totally boring. It was an experiment. Doesn’t work. But thanks for reading it if you got this far! We probably won’t have another blog post until we get to San Francisco. See you there.
Today’s post is an actual combo Brandon & Brandon blog. We decided to turn on the tape recorder and share with you a conversation between the two of us in the clubhouse. (Saves us from writing anything.) We flipped a coin to see who’d transcribe the tape. We won’t say who lost, but the tape was subsequently fobbed off on a Giants’ staffer who volunteered to do it, mostly to stop a particular someone’s whining and pleading for best two-out-of-three.
Belt: It would have been awesome to be in the lineup today with Will Ferrell playing, wouldn’t it? (Neither Brandon was in the lineup and didn’t make the trip to Glendale for the game.)
Crawford: Would it have been cool to see him? Yeah. But it’s a road game. I’m not disappointed not to go.
Belt: I don’t know if we’d get to talk to him that much, anyway.
Crawford: What would you have said?
Belt: I’d give him some tips on how to be funny. How to act little bit. Nothing as far as baseball goes, I don’t think.
Crawford: What’s your favorite Will Ferrell movie?
Belt: Just your normal ones. Old School. Step-Brothers. Talladega Nights. A lot of people like Elf.
Crawford: Anchorman’s a classic.
Belt. Anchorman! Yes! That’s up there at the top. But Stepbrothers is probably my favorite. It’s so stupid, but it’s hilarious.
Crawford: Step Brothers is all right. Not the best.
Belt: Step Brothers is one of those movies I can watch over and over. Like Tombstone. SuperBad.
Crawford: Elf is better than Step Brothers.
Belt. No, it’s not!
Crawford: Stranger than Fiction?
Belt: That’s the one I was trying to think of. It’s terrible!
Crawford: It’s better than Step Brothers.
Belt: No, it isn’t! Step Brothers is hilarious.
Crawford: Are we going to stay catch partners? (They were catch partners Wednesday when Crawford played in the field for the first time this spring. Last year Crawford’s catch partner was Pablo.)
Belt: I can’t remember who mine was last season. Hicks, before he left. I don’t know what I did after that. I had a concussion for a while. I don’t remember a lot.
Crawford: You threw with Joe (Panik).
Belt: That might be right. I can’t remember.
Crawford: I think he’s playing catch with McGehee. Probably so you wouldn’t ask him again.
Belt: You know I’m really tired right now, and I slept late today. Is that weird? I am like extremely dead.
Crawford: Did you have cherry juice?
Belt: I should have.
Crawford: I don’t believe it wakes you up. For me, it makes me more tired.
Belt: It’s got like 64 cherries in it, and it’s gross. But it’s supposed to give you energy. I didn’t drink it today. I need a Red Bull right now. I haven’t had a Red Bull in like six days.
Crawford: There are a bunch of sugar-free ones in the kitchen that are terrible for you.
Belt: it’s the sugar ones that are bad for you.
Crawford: I thought you were on a nutrition kick.
Belt: So I can’t have Red Bull? Why not?
Crawford: It’s bad for you.
Belt: What are the long-term effects of Red Bull?
Crawford: I don’t know.
Belt: Exactly! So you can’t say anything bad about it.
Crawford: You might develop super powers.
Belt: Yeah! I could!
Crawford: You might actually get wings.
Belt: I could get in the hot tub and spill it and go back in time. It’s possible.
Crawford: Where’d you go?
Belt: I like today. I wouldn’t go anywhere.
Crawford: Go to the future.
Belt: Yeah, I’d go to the future. Go a hundred years into the future and see where we are.
Crawford: Where WE are?
Belt: No — well, we might be alive because they might have the technology by then to bring you back to life.
Crawford: Or maybe the Red Bull will keep you living that long.
Belt: Maybe if I drink Red Bull my whole life I’ll be a thousand years old.
Crawford: Good point.
Tomorrow in Part II: Binge TV.
Just like old times. Guest blogging again.
It’s great to be back with all the guys. There’s still sort a Brandon row in the clubhouse — we’re within a couple lockers of each other but not adjoining like in SF. (I am happy to report we have not revived the Brandon handshake. It was not the greatest handshake, as the other Brandons will tell you. In fact, it kind of gives you an uncomfortable feeling when you do it.)
To refresh your memory, I was sent to Triple A in mid-July. I watched the World Series from my home in Galveston, Texas, with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine. We parked ourselves in front of the TV every evening.
I admit it was a little difficult at times. I wished I could have been there and been a part of it. But of course you’re rooting for the guys you battled with earlier in the year. What stood out for me about the team was their fight — their ability to never give up or give in. They had their backs against the wall a lot of times and kept on pushing. That’s just the type of guys that are in there.
I’m really proud to have contributed during the first half of a championship season. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that. Plus, I’ll get a ring, which is every ballplayer’s dream.
When I arrived at camp a couple weeks ago, a few guys did a double take. They didn’t really recognize me. I’ve got longish hair now. I haven’t cut it since last June. Not sure why. I’ve never really had it long, so I thought, “Why not do it now?’’ It kind of got a little curly on me, though.
I’m not comparing myself to Pagan. He’s probably got the best hair on the team. But I might be in Crawford territory. He gave me some of his product the other day to use. It turned out all right. Gave it that wet look he likes before the game.
Here’s our better side . . .
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!