Results tagged ‘ Giants ’
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?
I’ve finally gotten out to see a few movies lately. I went to two over the weekend with Haylee and saw two on the last road trip.
Bad Moms: Haylee and I got to the theater late and had to sit in the front row. So already it wasn’t great. But the movie was freaking hilarious. It’s about the moms’ jobs and their interactions with the kids and trying to overcome the judgment from other moms. It was pretty crude at times. They basically had these moms talking like you’d expect from a group of guys. One of the actresses — I can’t remember her name but she’s in Stepbrothers, a red-headed woman, Catherine something – she was absolutely hilarious. I laughed my butt off pretty much the entire movie. Haylee liked it a lot, too. The best part was the woman in the theater who you could hear laughing like every five seconds. She thought this was the funniest thing she had ever seen her entire life. And that made it even funnier for me.
Rating: B-plus. It’s the funniest female comedy I’ve seen. Better even than Bridesmaids. Actually maybe it’s an A.
Sausage Party: Haylee didn’t want to go see it, and I talked her into going. She’s like, “It’s a cartoon and it’s probably going to be stupid.’’ I said, “Yeah, probably, but stupid can be funny.’’ It’s from the guys who made Superbad and all those movies. Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride. Kristen Wiig was in it. I was kind of excited to see it, but it was brutal. As in terrible. Awful. But all they did was make a bunch of cartoon food cuss a lot. It’s set in a grocery store and the food wants to get out because they think they’re going to heaven when they’re picked and taken out of the grocery store. They call it the Great Beyond. When they get picked, they go out there and learn they’re getting eaten by people and getting slaughtered and basically going to hell. It’s kind of a funny premise. Like there are German bratwursts who want to kill all the juice. Kristen Wiig is a bun, and she has a boyfriend who’s a wiener. But we walked out after an hour. I didn’t laugh hardly at all, and I love comedies.
Rating: F. This might be my first F, though I might have given The Jungle Book an F, I can’t remember.
Jason Bourne. I saw it on the road with Kontos, Osich and Chad Chop. It’s the only Jason Bourne movie I’ve ever seen. I didn’t care for it too much. I like the Mission Impossible movies better. Not much else to say.
Suicide Squad. Cain and I went when we were in Washington. The story’s about these villains who form a super-hero type group to defeat bigger evils. It’s a Marvel comic and it’s set in the same place as Batman and Superman. It’s really cheesy. Very corny dialogue. It was supposed to be a Guardians of the Galaxy type movie, and it wasn’t even close to that. Guardians of the Galaxy is way better. It had a good cast—Will Smith, Margot Robbie, the guy from Jack Reacher. A lot of guys I’ve seen before. And Jared Leto was the Joker. He was a good Joker, but I heard he was weird during the filming, that he stayed in character even when they weren’t shooting. Cain thought it was pretty stupid.
Rating: C-. Maybe D actually.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Let me know what movies I should see next. And let me know if you think Haylee will like it.
Also wanted to give a shout out to Dillon O’Leary and his family from Pleasanton who I met yesterday before the game. Keep battling.
When you play 162 games, plus games in the spring and postseason, you find yourself developing pre-game routines. For me, and I think for most guys, it’s not about superstition, like wearing the same socks during a winning streak. It’s about getting your brain into a battle mindset.
Having a routine saves you a lot of energy. You don’t have to figure out a new way every day to switch off normal-life mode and turn on focus-and-fight mode.
I’ll take you through my pre-game routine and mindset.
I start to feel the change on my way to the ballpark, whether I’m driving myself to AT&T or taking a taxi or the team bus to a ballpark on the road. My body and brain know a game will be happening in a few hours. It’s like the dogs in that experiment – what was that guy’s name? Pavlov?
So at that point I’m feeling some anxiousness. For a 7:15 game, I’ll get to the park around 2:30. When I step into the clubhouse, my demeanor gets more serious. I’m having fun with my teammates, but I’m not as goofy and loose as I am at home. I’m enjoying myself, but my body and brain know the clubhouse is my place of work.
As the game gets closer, I’m feeling more intensity. I just get going. I used to feel the intensity and restlessness way too much, and I had to learn how to calm myself down.
I did this in a few ways. I stopped – or at least I try really hard to stop – worrying about results. I can’t control them anyway. What I CAN control is how much I prepare. So I make sure I do everything possible to feel as prepared as possible mentally and physically. If I know I’ve done everything I can do – take extra fielding or batting practice, get my sleep, eat well, go over the defensive charts — I’m going to feel confident and more relaxed.
After BP, I eat, stretch, open mail, etc.
As teammates start to pull on the game uniform, I wait. I stay in my practice uniform or in a T-shirt and shorts.
About 30 minutes before the game, I change into my game uniform. By then, everyone else is already dressed.
Putting on my game uniform is the final step in getting into full battle mode. It’s like putting on armor. For a few minutes, I sit quietly in front of my locker. I’m not having conversations. My mind is focused on what I need to do to help us win. I’m thinking about my approach at the plate: Keep it simple, stay within yourself, see the ball and hit the ball. I try to keep myself from getting too caught up in the opposing pitcher’s strategy. Don’t overthink it.
But soon I have to start moving. Once the uniform is on, my brain and body are on red-alert to play. I want to get going. I might expend a little energy taking some cuts in the batting cage behind the dugout. I might walk to the dining room and grab something to drink. I want to just get out there and play. It drives me nuts to just sit at that point.
I’ve been doing this same routine, more or less, since I was in the minors. It keeps me calm, gets me focused and energizes me for another game of a very long season.
Thanks for reading. . . And thanks for all the All-Star votes! It really means a lot to see and hear about the efforts to get the vote out. I feel really lucky to play for the best fans in baseball.
(Movie reviews soon.)
Still shaking my head about the Warriors last night. Amazing. We know a little about playing in the postseason with our backs against the wall. Really inspiring to watch.
I want to finish up random notes from the last road trip.
Big Bad Bum in San Diego: As soon as Bum struck out Wil Myers for the last out of the inning, I bolted for the dugout because I was leading off. As I’m running in, the field crew is coming out to drag the field, and the crowd suddenly erupts. I’m thinking, “Man, they really like the field crew here.’’ Then I see the dugout emptying. I still don’t really know what happened. Just another day at the ballpark with Bum on the mound.
Swinging away: There are certain things you remember in detail when you play ball. They’re usually the things that don’t happen very often. One of those is swinging on 3-0 counts, which I did in the same game as the Bum-Myers dust-up. I’ve swung on 3-0 counts only five times in my ML career.
The first time was against Johnny Cueto in 2011. I flew out to left. I didn’t swing on 3-0’s for the next three years, ’12, ’13 and ’14. Last year, I swung three times – for two home runs and a double. And in San Diego, I hit a home run. I’m now 4-for-5 on 3-0 counts.
How do I decide to swing or not? The pitcher, the score, where base runners are, who’s hitting behind me.
In San Diego, the situation was: runners on first and third, one out, nothing-nothing game, and a pitcher – Colin Rea — I had never faced but had watched video on. He’s not a guy who has a huge sinker or anything like that, so I wasn’t too concerned about grounding into a double play. He’s a guy who will occasionally elevate his fastball — something you can hit a fly ball off of. So I figured even if I didn’t get all of it, I’d still get a sacrifice fly and score the runner the third. Bum was on deck. Yes, he’s a good-hitting pitcher, but he’s a pitcher. I wanted to do what I could to get the run in myself. I looked for Rea to throw me a fastball, which he did — though it was a borderline ball four. And since I was ready for it, I got it out.
So I don’t know if this stuff is at all interesting to most people, but for those who wonder about our thought process, I’ll share why I swung away the other three times.
Last year, against Jordan Zimmerman, the situation was 2 outs, nobody on, and a light-hitting batter coming up behind me. If I took the walk, there’d be two outs with me on first. I’m not a big basestealer, so somebody was going to have to hit a double to get me home from first. So I went for it. I had never really hit Zimmerman well in the past, but I knew he was going to come after me with fastballs. He doesn’t want to walk anybody. Sure enough, I got an up-and-in fastball and hit it out.
It was a similar situation against Kyle Lohse, also last year. Two outs, runner on first. We’d need an extra base hit to score the runner. Lohse was another guy who, for the most part, was going to come right after you. He doesn’t want to walk me and put a runner on second base with two outs. So I thought it was a good time to swing away. Maybe I’d hit one in the gap and score the runner from first. I hit a HR to center.
The next one was against the Dodgers. Belt was on second with two outs. Mike Bolsinger, a right-hander, was on the mound. We had a right-handed batter after me, so Bolsinger was pitching around me to get to him. I had just taken a couple good curve balls, so I sat on another one and hit a double.
Having said all this, I know if I swing at a 3-0 pitch and ground out, some people will howl – “Why are you swinging on 3-0??’’ But at least you’ll know why.
A Day at the Zoo: Kristen Posey arranged for players and families to go to the San Diego Zoo when we were there. Buster and Kristen’s son, Lee, who is four years old, came into the clubhouse after a game at AT&T the other day.
“Lee, how’d you like the zoo?’’ I asked him.
He lit up. “Yeah! The giraffe drooled on my head!’’
Love that kid. Fits right in with the rest of us.
Thanks for reading. Go Warriors!
There’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with music.
During batting practice last week in San Diego, the Padres – or at least whoever’s in charge of pregame music – had a little fun. The first day of the series, as soon as their own BP ended, the edgy, rappy music stopped. Suddenly, when we took the field, it was all boy bands, ‘90s pop, teeny-bopper pop.
I was smiling because it seemed like they were trying to mess with us. I was standing out at short stop and thinking, “They don’t know what they did. They’re locking me in.’’ They don’t know that we like this stuff. Or at least I do. I hit a home run that night.
The second day of BP, it was all Enya. If you haven’t heard her, the songs are like massage music — for batting practice, it was kind of rough. The third day, they played stuff like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’’ and “It’s Raining Men’’ –kind of girl-power music.
So did we return the favor when they played in SF this week? No, because to be honest I don’t think the music has anything to do with how you play during the game. BUT . . . if I were going to mess with them . . . since it seems they don’t like that ‘90s pop, I’d probably throw on the Sneaky Awesome playlist we listen to every day. Except it really wouldn’t be messing with them because they’d realize they actually like it.
Now that we’re two months into the season, every now and then I run out of ideas of what to play in the clubhouse. So I’ll ask around. Bum and Belt are never afraid to give me a song. Belt’s tastes are all over the place. He’s like me in that way. He’ll go from “I Knew You Were Trouble’’ by Taylor Swift to a punk-rock-scream song by System of a Down to rapper Rick Ross to Luke Bryan.
Bum’s been surprising. He’s requested Rihanna and “Sugar’’ by Robin Schulz. He’s liked the Drake song I’ve put on recently. Not what you’d expect from “Fire on the Mountain’’ Bum.
I have other random things to share, which I will. But I’m going to post this and finish the rest in a little while.
By the way, pretty good week so far all around, isn’t it? Happy flight to Denver yesterday.
So Crawford and Belt are handing over their blog to me for a day. Apparently they had to vote on it. Crawford was fine. Belt wasn’t so sure. But he ended up giving 1 percent approval, which he explained made for a 51 percent majority vote.
It’s funny the impressions you have of players when you’re playing against them. A week or so into spring training, Matt Cain came up to me and said, “You didn’t think we were like this, did you?’’
He was right. When I was with the Nationals, I thought the Giants were a very serious group of guys, that they didn’t have as much fun as a lot of other teams. They seemed a little tight, like they did everything by the book.
It’s the complete opposite. This team has a very dry sense of humor. A guy like Cain, who has his game face on when he’s pitching, is actually a real jokester. He’s always sending me funny text messages, just messing with me. I never thought Buster had much personality, but in the clubhouse he’s always joking around. I would never have expected that. Crawford is sneaky funny. He’ll throw a jab here and there, catch you off guard.
That’s what makes this team who they are, why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. They’re serious on the field and lighthearted off it.
My locker is next to Hunter’s so I’ve had more intense talks with him than with anyone else. We talk about competing, about being a winner, about having that mindset. He’s very analytical when it comes to stuff like that. He’s a deep thinker. The other thing about Hunter is how much he cares about his teammates as people. He’s always checking in with me and making sure everything’s going OK in my world, that my head’s where it needs to be. I appreciate that.
The other thing you can’t really appreciate until you actually become a Giant is the energy at this ballpark. Opening Day – I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. Craziness. Pandemonium. Just unreal. Walking in from center field with all those kids was awesome. We walked around the stadium and fans were giving us high-fives. I didn’t know much about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Man, this is the real deal, which made Opening Day all the more fun and crazy.
Here’s a photo of my mom with a Giants fan on Opening Day.
And what a game. As Boch said, it was like two games in one. What I noticed in the dugout was how calm everyone was during all the three-up, three-down innings. There wasn’t a hint of panic. We just chipped away and before you knew it the momentum switched to our side and we just took off. What I loved was how many different ways we attacked, from Kelby’s perfect bunt to Hunter’s grand slam. This is a seriously dangerous lineup.
One question I get a lot is about my batting stance. My front (right) foot is turned so far inward that my heel is almost facing the pitcher’s mound. I do that because my body instinctively wants to pull the ball instead of staying squared up. So I turn my foot to keep my front hip from flying open. That’s my thinking anyway. I’m always tinkering with my swing. I didn’t have a lot of coaching growing up. I’d go to the batting cage and critique myself. I’d try a bunch of things until something felt right. When I was really little, I imitated Darryl Strawberry. I had a VHS tape of him with his high leg kick. He’d kind of drop his hands as his leg came up. I’d do that with my little plastic bat and my little plastic ball.
My mom, Wanda, and my stepdad, Stan, are out here this weekend from Tampa. So is one of my best friends, Wallace, plus an aunt from New York and her daughter who lives near Sacramento.
They went sight-seeing before coming to the games. Here’s my mom with Wallace on the left and my stepdad on the right some where in the city.
Believe me, I could hear all of them cheering every time I came up to bat. After the game on Opening Day, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square. People aren’t recognizing me much, but this morning, as soon as I got into my Uber car, the driver said, “You’re our lead-off hitter, aren’t you?’’
I like how he phrased that: Our leadoff hitter. I’m getting the sense that being a San Francisco Giants is like being part of a family.
OK, Belt, you have the blog back. By the way, just heard about the new contract. Dinner’s on you in Colorado.
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
Why not buy a house in the Bay Area? One reason is it’s so expensive. Also, Arizona is kind of in between Jalynne’s family and mine. And we can be in our home during spring training. But eventually we’d like to have a house here in the Bay Area.
Did Hicks and I wear our pants up in New York as a tribute to Belt? No. Hicks said he was wearing his pants up that day, probably just to change things up, and he asked me if I’d wear them up, too. So I did. There were strong opinions here in the clubhouse that I look better with my calves covered. I think they’re jealous.
Toughest part of playing shortstop in the Majors? The speed of the game. The runners, ground balls — everything’s faster. It’s a cliche, but if you don’t step back and take it one pitch at a time, one play at a time, things can kind of spiral on you.
Favorite restaurant in the Bay Area? La Fogata, a Mexican place in Walnut Creek. With two babies, we’re doing more take-out now than eating at the restaurant.
What position I’d play for one game if I could? Pitcher, just to see how I’d do. I still occasionally throw pitches to Pablo during warmups. Maybe Bochy will take notice . . .
Question about whether it’s a good idea for a 9-year-old to play only baseball all year round: When I was nine, I played basketball, soccer and baseball. At 12, I stopped soccer and took up football. Those other sports help your athleticism. You’re not focused on just a few movements. In baseball, you’re using your arm all the time. In soccer I was using my legs and developing a different kind of agility. If you’re a little kid and you’re only playing one sport, you might get burned out. It’s ridiculous how many travel teams there are now. I’d say every American guy on the Giants played another sport, not just baseball.
Does having family members in the stands affect how you play? At this point, no.
Funniest or craziest thing a fan or rival has yelled to throw off my concentration? I’ve heard people yell, “Get a haircut’’ and “Nice mullet’’. I know there have been funnier things but I can’t really think of anything specific.
Strangest thing you’ve been asked to sign? A female fan asked me to sign a certain body part which I did not do. I think she was a little surprised and maybe a little upset. Some kids have asked me to sign their hands or arms and I ask, “Do your parents know I’m doing this?’’ Other than that, I’ve signed people’s shoes, phones, things like that. I say, “You know this doesn’t come off, right?’’
How many times did you laugh making the commercial with Belt? We did about 20 takes, and I’d say 15 were ruined by laughing. It was mostly Belt laughing. I was trying to game-face him. We had a lot of fun.
When my Dad didn’t let me play baseball once because I got a C, what class was it? Honors geometry. And it was actually a C+.
How is Team Brandon doing in the hitting competition? Since we lost Belt, our first-round pick, we struggled a little bit last month. Fortunately I got off to a pretty good start this month and Adrianza had some hits. Bam-Bam replaced Belt with Perez, who’s not an everyday starter so he has no chance to rack up a lot of points. When we also lost Adrianza to the DL, we thought we’d get Panik. But he went to a different group. I’m not sure how this game is being played. I’m starting to wonder if it’s rigged.
Is language ever a barrier in the clubhouse? Yes. No one understands Bumgarner. But now we have Hudson as a translator.
Pitcher that gives me the most trouble? I could probably speak for most of the big leagues and say Kershaw.
That’s it for now. Keep your questions coming. I know Belt wants to do a blog before he heads off to San Jose for the start of his rehab assignment. Glad he’s getting closer to being back in the lineup. We need him. Don’t tell him I said that.
June 25, 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!
I think Belt will be blogging tomorrow — he’s been talking about movies, so you can expect some reviews. His cast his off, so we’ve had to stop calling him Chubbs. (If you haven’t seen Happy Gilmore, ask someone who has.)
Since I last pinch-blogged, I moved from the Courtyard Marriott into an apartment in San Bruno. How’s this for generosity? Marco Scutaro told me to stay in his apartment while he’s still in Arizona on the DL. I met Marco for the first time last winter in Florida through my former Braves teammate Martin Prado, who was my workout buddy this off-season in Orlando. Martin knows Marco from Venezuela. We all went hunting together on Scott Proctor’s ranch in South Florida.
Then we saw each other a lot during spring training not only because I was with the Giants but because I stayed with Martin at his house in Arizona during spring camp. Marco took me out one day to a dairy farm near Scottsdale to hunt pigeons and doves with air rifles.
He won’t take any rent for the apartment, which is not OK with me. So I have to figure out how to thank him. Maybe some hunting gear.
When the Mets were just in town, I couldn’t help thinking about how much my baseball life has changed in a year. Last season, I was with the Mets’ Triple A team in Las Vegas, the 51’s. I never got a call-up. You always believe you’ll land back in the Major Leagues but you don’t know where or when. It’s humbling to think I’m now not only in the big leagues, I’m on a great team and playing almost every day. It’s a great opportunity that I’ve been blessed with and I just want to make the most of it.
Any player who’s being honest will tell you he gets a little extra satisfaction when he does well against his former team. I was happy to have a good night Friday — double, triple walk, two runs. I wasn’t so happy Sunday when I struck out three times in a row. But that fourth at-bat, I still believed I’d get a hit, and I singled home Crawford. You just got to keep grinding.
That’s kind of the motto of this team as a whole. Keep grinding. You never know who’s going to step up. It’s a different guy every night. We have so many good players on this team. Our pitching’s awesome, our defense has been good and you never know who’s going to get that big hit. That’s what’s helped me so much — the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Everybody knows what they need to do to be prepared every day. And when things don’t go our way, there’s no panic. We proved ourselves early on with comebacks. We feel like we’re never out of it. You get a couple guys on and you’re one swing away from getting right back in the game.
That’s it for me. Check out the latest Giants Magazine with the all-Brandon cover. Our mothers tell why they named each of us Brandon, plus other Brandon trivia.
Thanks for reading.