Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’

Itching to Play — Brandon Belt

It’s really disappointing to be out of the lineup right when the season gets started. I won’t be out for long, but missing any time at all is so frustrating because all you’re thinking during the off-season and especially spring training is, “How do I get ready for Opening Day and the new season? What can I do to get better?’’ You can’t wait to get back out there.

I still got butterflies on Opening Day down here in Arizona. I imagine I’ll feel them again for the home opener on Monday. Maybe you think at this point in our lives, playing in the Major Leagues, we’d get kind of jaded to it all. But you don’t. It’s still a huge deal. You’ve been waiting four-and-a-half months. You’re so raring to go and so excited that you have to learn how to calm yourself down and clear everything out of your head.

You do that by going back to basics. As a little kid you’re always told to keep your eye on the ball, and that’s basically what it is. When you have a lot of stuff cluttering your mind, that’s when you get yourself in trouble. You need to go out there and be free and easy both mechanically and mentally. It’s something I really worked on this spring.

One thing that really helps: Having a seven-month-old baby. You cannot be in a bad mood around that kid. It’s awesome. He’s just loves being alive every day. He’s a lot like me as a kid. You might not know it now, but I was kind of goofy growing up. You can ask some of the guys I played with in the minors. I was goofy. And Haylee’s just like me. So we expect Greyson to be the same way.

I have faith that this little setback is just that. It’s no fun watching a game from the dugout when all you’ve been thinking about is being on that field. I’m feeling good and know I’ll be back in the lineup very, very soon. No movie reviews until then!

Pinch-blogging: Brandon Hicks

Hey, everyone. It’s Brandon Hicks. Brandon Crawford’s wife Jalynne came up with the idea that the newest Brandon ought to take over the blog for a day. The other Brandons thought today would be a good day. Great. Right after I strike out three times and make an error. Where were they when I went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs against the Dodgers?

I’m a pretty quiet guy, and frankly I didn’t know what a blog was until they explained it. But since my locker is right between them, and since Belt is my throwing partner every day, I figured I’d better do this.

Actually, I’m happy to fill in because it gives me a chance to tell you how unbelievable it was to start for the Giants on Opening Day here at AT&T Park. I didn’t find out until yesterday morning. I was in the lunch room around 8:30 or 9 when Bochy told me I was starting. My adrenaline started to get going. I’d never been in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

My girlfriend is here with me, so it was great to share this with her. She doesn’t know that much about baseball because she hasn’t been around it much. But she thought it was pretty awesome. How could she not? The planes, the fireworks, the screaming fans, the BatKid. I didn’t know anything about the BatKid, so Carl, our conditioning coach, told me how the city basically turned into Gotham City for him last year. That was pretty sweet to have him here yesterday.

I wasn’t nervous to take the field, but I was definitely excited. I just wanted to get that first ground ball to let my emotions calm down a little bit. You want to treat the game like any other game but on Opening Day at a park like this with fans like these, it’s clearly not just any other game. Yesterday was unlike anything I’ve been a part of.

On the double play throw, I rushed it a little bit, didn’t get my feet set and made a bad throw. You feel bad for the pitcher especially when a run scores, but you have to let it go and think about the next pitch and the next play. You have to stay in the moment.

Same with the strike-outs. You have to put them behind you. I was probably a little over-anxious and trying to do too much. It was just one of those days when you get outside your game plan. Today is a new day, so you go out and make the most of it. We play way too many games to worry about one game. You’d have a headache every day.

The most important thing is the team won. It’s the only thing that matters.

Walking back to the hotel after the game was as awesome as the game. Everybody was wearing Giants shirts and hats. The streets and the bars were packed. Everywhere we looked we saw orange and black. I have to say that was really cool.

OK, fellow Brandons, the blog is yours again. Thanks, everybody, for welcoming me. This is an awesome place to play.

-Brandon H.

Belt

Last year when Bochy called me in his office and told me I made the Opening Day roster, I was so emotional that I had to take a few minutes to collect myself before going back into the clubhouse.

This year was a little different. I still didn’t know if I was going to make the team. So that part was the same. For six weeks in spring training you’re wondering and wondering. You’re thinking, “God, I just want to know.’’ They don’t tell you anything. It’s nerve-wracking. I figured I wouldn’t find out until Wednesday, when the final cuts were to be made and announced.

So Tuesday afternoon in Oakland, I’m at the cage during batting practice before the preseason game against the A’s. Bochy comes up to me and asks how I’m doing.

“I feel pretty good,’’ I say. “Hope to get a couple more hits tonight.’’

“If you get two,’’ he says, “you make the team.’’

I laugh and say, “I’ll do my best.’’

“No,’’ Bochy says. “You made the team. Congratulations.’’

It was awesome to hear that. I was really happy and relieved. But no tears this time. (By the way, I got only one hit that night so good thing Bochy was kidding.)

The biggest difference from last year to this year is my confidence. Last year, I didn’t know what was going on. Even as far as the plane and hotels. You’re always one stupid move from making a complete fool of yourself.

And when I struggled at the plate, I got advice from a bunch of different people and felt obligated to listen to all of them. This year, I’m confident in my approach at the plate, something I worked on in the Dominican winter league and during spring training. If I do go into a slump, I know I’ll come out of it without scrambling around and changing everything. I know myself better and what works for me. So I’ll take the advice that’s useful and leave the rest.

The team feels different this year, too. Not radically. But I feel we gelled right from the start of spring training. It seems like everyone’s kind of on the same level, like there’s no hierarchy.

Of course, it could be just that my perception has changed because I’m no longer a rookie. Last year, I came into a clubhouse with a lot of veterans and I kind of felt I was by myself. This year, not only do I have a year of experience under my belt, but there are more young guys  – Brandon Crawford, Brett Pill, Hector Sanchez.

The other thing is having Buster back. He’s one of the biggest leaders in the clubhouse and one of the biggest bats in the lineup – both of those are huge and have an impact on how the team feels overall. Everyone’s real confident.

I’m sharing the blog this year with Crawford. We’ll be alternating. So look for his entry in the next couple days.

See you back in San Francisco next week. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave comments. I love reading them and will try to answer your questions in an upcoming entry.

-Brandon Belt

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