Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
Everyone knows about Hunter’s speeches in the clubhouse. But when he crashed into the bullpen fence face-first to save a run in Arizona, there’s nothing that gets your teammates more fired up than that. You see what the guy’s willing to do, and everybody’s energy is suddenly ramped to the next level.
Oh, and he went 4-for-5 with a walk and scored four runs in the 12-inning win. A big reason we’re winning is having a healthy Hunter who’s on a hot streak. He’s making plays on defense. Scoring runs. Driving in runs.
And he’s doing his clubhouse thing, too. Even after we were shut out in Colorado that first day, he’s still smiling and happy in the clubhouse. That’s pretty amazing. Personally, I’m so ticked off after we lose there’s no way I can smile. An hour or so later, I can wipe the loss away and think about the next game. But right afterward? Not a chance.
But Hunter is ALWAYS positive. No one’s ever seen anything like it. In the clubhouse before the game, he’s dancing and getting fired up and yelling something weird. I don’t know if he’s psyching himself up or trying to get other guys up. Probably both. After the game, when we win, he has started to kind of make it like a party. He got these special mugs for guys and does toasts and celebrates.
Especially through the rough times, you need someone like Hunter who reminds you how much you love the game and how good we are when we play as a team.
We were happy, of course, to gain ground on the Dodgers and the Wild Card in Arizona but what mattered most was that we played good team baseball. Good defense. Hit well. Pitched well. Do that, and the wins will come.
I was pretty pumped about nailing a runner at home for the first time this season. It’s one of my favorite things to do, especially when the third-base coach thinks you can’t. It’s funny because before the game my arm was feeling particularly weary, as everybody’s arms and legs start to feel toward the end of the season. I said to our strength coach Carl Kochan, “Just watch. This will be the day I get an opportunity to throw home from deep in the gap.” Sure enough.
When it happened, I thought, “I’m just going to throw this as hard as I can and as far as I can.’’ You’re told either to throw a long hop to the catcher or get it to him without a hop. Of course it ended up being a short hop, but Buster made a great pick on it and kept the game tied.
Another way we come together as a team and try to have fun with our fantasy football league. We booked a room in the hotel restaurant while we were in Colorado, and we set up a draft board with all the stuff from a kit you can buy online that has magnetic name plates for the 300 top NFL players.
We have 12 teams this year: Javy and me. Romo. Dave Groeschner, our trainer. Gearrin and Brad Grems, our clubhouse coordinator. Derek Law and Tony Reale, our physical therapist. Parker and Kontos. Flemming and Kuiper. Belt. Samardzija. Dr. Akizuki, our orthopedist. Blanco (who was rehabbing in Arizona and made his picks online). And Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. (Duffy Facetimed on Joe’s laptop. It was great to see him.)
Here’s my team with Javy:
The team is a little unusual in that three of our first six picks weren’t in our starting lineup this weekend. Two guys are suspended and another is not a starter yet.We still won Week 1.
How’d your fantasy team do?
This is baseball in a nutshell.
I landed in the record books with seven hits on Monday night.
The day before, I went 0-for-4.
The day after, I went 0-for-4.
Try to make sense of it and you’ll go crazy.
I began the game using the same bat I’d be using the whole road trip. The way I’d been hitting during the road trip, there was absolutely no indication that bat had so many hits in it. Though I guess I could look at it another way: the bat had plenty of hits left because I sure hadn’t used up too many.
I remember being pretty happy with my first hit on Monday night, a two-strike squib in the second inning that Dee Gordon couldn’t make a play on. I don’t get too many infield singles, so it felt like a gift.
My second hit was a lead-off double over the first-base bag. Again a little lucky. A few inches to the right and it’s foul.
I struck out my third time up.
Then, down 5-1 in the seventh, I got a two-hopper between first and second in the five-run rally that put us ahead 6-5.
We fell behind again, 7-6, and in the eighth I jammed a blooper into right field that tied the score at 7. I thought Giancarlo Stanton had a chance to dive and catch it, so I lucked out again a bit there.
Now it’s the 11th inning. Buster’s on first, no outs. I get two strikes, foul twice, then hit a line-drive single up the middle. That’s when Buster tried to eat third base. I was worried at first then he got up and, other than a little embarrassed, he looked fine. So of course I thought it was pretty funny — until I heard that he had jammed his finger. And that scrape on his chin was pretty bad.
(But Buster had a sense of humor about it. In the clubhouse after the game, I saw him on his phone watching it on the MLB app and he was laughing to himself. MLB network showed it in slow-motion on TV and we all got laughing. His finger was still hurting, though, and he sat out the next day.)
So that was my fifth hit. I’d never had five hits in a game before. I’d only gotten four a couple times. So I’m thinking this is pretty cool. And I figured that was it. We were already in extra innings, so I probably wasn’t going to get another at-bat, much less another hit.
But the game slogs into the 13th and I hit a triple to right.
Six hits. Crazy.
Now we go to the 14th. Belt and Buster get on base. Two outs. Here I come to the plate. I’m no statistician, but with six hits already, I know I’m not going to get a hit. I’m due – overdue – to make an out. I’m thinking, “It’s too bad it’s me in this situation. This kind of sucks for us.’’
The Marlins had just brought in Andrew Cashner to pitch. I’d done fairly well against Cashner. I know what he has. But of course I don’t know how he’s going to pitch me here. First pitch is a ball. Then I get a slider up the middle that I drive into center. And we go ahead, 8-7.
After the game, after watching all the replays of Buster’s face-plant, a reporter told me that seven hits in a game is rarer than a perfect game. I shared this information almost immediately with Matt Cain. He was a bit defensive, pointing out that every starting pitcher has a chance to get a perfect game but rarely does, while most batters never even have the chance to get seven hits.
Well, I don’t care. I’m pretty thrilled with it. I’m never going to get the home run record or career hits record, but I’ve been incredibly lucky in the record-book department. I’m one of just six players to hit a grand-slam in my first Major League game. And I’m the first shortstop in baseball history to hit a grand slam in a post-season game (2014 Wild Card game against the Pirates).
It’s crazy to think that in the whole history of the game, you’re among such a small group of people who accomplished a particular feat.
However puffed up I might have been feeling on Monday, I was humbled on Tuesday with the 0-for-4. That’s the game. Always humbling you.
I think I’ll blame it on giving the bat to the Hall of Fame. Maybe it still had some juice in it.
MLB has to authenticate all your stuff from the game on the day it happens, so they were in the clubhouse that night. They authenticated my bat, gloves, helmet, jersey and cleats. I’m keeping the jersey and the cleats. The jersey just because I want it. And the cleats because they’re the only ones I have and want to use them the rest of the season.
I think I’m getting the lineup card, too.
I know right now it might not look like that 14-inning win is the turning point in our season. But I think it still might prove to be the moment we look back on. We had to grind it out – Bochy in the hospital, Pence with his black eye, Buster with his scraped face and jammed finger. As Jon Miller said, we looked like a poster from the Civil War.
We were feeling pretty great that night though we were completely exhausted. You couldn’t help but look around the clubhouse and think, I’ll take my chances with these guys any day.
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.
Some of you might have seen Jalynne’s instagram a few days ago of the sonogram: We’re expecting our third child. Jaydyn has no clue what’s going on, but Braylyn understands there’s a baby inside Mommy’s tummy. Or at least she pretty much understands. When you ask her who’s in there, she says, “Baby Buzz!’’ (She’s been kind of obsessed with Toy Story lately.)
She’s funny, though, because when Jalynne told her that she had been in Mommy’s tummy, she seemed kind of appalled. She was like, “No, Mama!’’
The baby is due in mid-January, right around my birthday. We’re all really happy and excited.
I’m still smiling about being part of the All-Star Game. It was an honor, first of all — something that no one can ever take away from you. You grow up playing the game and being on Little League All-Star teams, and then you make it to the MLB All-Star team — representing the San Francisco Giants, your hometown team. I don’t dwell too much on the unbelievable good fortune I’ve had, but I couldn’t help it this week. Playing with the Giants. Winning two World Series Championships. And now playing in the All-Star Game. Even I couldn’t dream that big.
Besides being an honor, the All-Star Game was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. When you play against guys, you form an impression of what they’re like. Then you get to spend a little time together and you sometimes see another side. For instance, Adrian Gonzalez. I could never get a read on him because he never really talks to you at first base, unlike some other first basemen. But I talked to him a bit in Cincinnati and he seemed like a really good guy. He was loose and having a great time in the dugout.
So was Kershaw. When the first-base umpire called a foul ball against us, Kershaw yelled in a high-pitched voice, “C’mon, Jerry! That was fair!’’ Then he turned to Dee Gordon next to him and in his own voice said — real loud — “Yeah, Dee! You tell him!’’ He was really funny, which is not what I think of him when I’m standing in the batter’s box.
A.J. Burnett is another one. He has this angry face when he’s pitching and so he doesn’t come across as the nicest guy. But as soon as we crossed paths in Cincinnati, he introduced himself and his sons. He couldn’t have been nicer. After the game, even though everyone was kind of rushed with packing up and figuring out where the buses were, he made a point of coming up to me. “Hey, nice to meet you. Good luck the rest of the way,’’ he said. “Remember I’m coming after you.’’ We both smiled: He hadn’t forgotten my home run off him earlier this year.
During batting practice, I introduced myself to Kris Bryant because we hadn’t played against each other yet, and I talked to guys like A.J. Pollock and DJ LeMahieu who don’t really talk much when you play against them.
Bum was great. He was actually a little social butterfly. He went around talking to everybody. He was especially giving Kershaw a hard time. It started the first moment they saw each other and didn’t stop.
My only regret is that I didn’t get more autographs. The clubbies set out boxes and boxes of baseballs that we all signed. Every player received one signed ball, and you could buy more. I bought six National League and six American league balls. But I wish I had gotten certain individual guys to sign balls. I have a display case in my house here in the Arizona with balls signed by future Hall of Famers (or just really good players). I started it a few years ago when we played the Yankees in New York and I got one of the clubbies to get autographed balls from Jeter and Rivera for me. (That’s how players usually get other players’ autographs: tip a clubbie to do it. It could be weird if you just walked up to somebody.) I was thinking after I left Cincinnati that I should have gotten Pujols, Trout and Harper while I was right there with them. Once a fan, always a fan.
Another thing about the All-Star Game: They actually played our walk-up music. That surprised me. I noticed it with Bryce Harper in the first inning because I remembered his walk-up music from just playing them in Washington. Then when I walked up to the plate, I heard mine. That was pretty cool.
Two other cool things:
One, my dad made a last-minute decision to fly out to the game. He had been my coach on Little League All-Star teams, so it was great that he was there. And he flew home with us on the Giants’ charter.
Two, my sister Amy finally could root for both me and her boyfriend, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, at the same time. During the workout on Monday, Gerrit told he was going to propose to her. He showed me the ring and described his plan to surprise her the day after the All-Star Game. I guess he nailed it because Amy looked pretty surprised in the photos she tweeted out on Wednesday. I’m really happy for them.
We flew back to San Francisco right after the game. Jalynne, the girls and I got to our house in the East Bay at around 5:45 Wednesday morning. Jaydyn, of course, woke up at 9. So we didn’t get much sleep. We flew early in the evening down to our house in Arizona, where I had a great night’s sleep.
I’m looking forward to starting the second half of the season, so I guess I have to put the All-Star Game behind me. But I’ll tell you this: I wouldn’t mind going back.
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.
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!