This is the first entry in a blog I’m hoping to keep updating throughout the season. Maybe it will give you a better feel for what it’s like in the clubhouse and on the field — and it will give me a chance to talk directly with fans and get to know them better.
I was thinking today about spring training and how pitchers have two ways to go: They can polish their best stuff, or they can work on the stuff that needs to get better. Obviously, you win more games in spring training when you put your best stuff out there. Our pitchers didn’t do that. We were always thinking about the season, not that particular spring-training game. We didn’t win a lot of games. Our pitchers looked pretty bad out there sometimes. When they got frustrated, I’d say, “Look, don’t get mad. You’re doing this to get ready for the season.”
Now we’re seeing it pay off.
Three wins in a row.
I can’t tell you what a difference that makes in the clubhouse and in the dugout. Guys are joking around more. Everybody’s more laid back and relaxed. That first week was rough, no doubt about it. We came out of spring training with people saying we were going to be last in the whole baseball world, not just our division. When they say things like that and then all of sudden you start winning, that makes us believe again. You think, “OK, we can do it.”
It’s not that you ever stop believing, even during the worst slumps. For me, it’s all about faith and trust. I trust my teammates, and I always remind myself, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” I’m always talking to the younger guys about that, how we’re in this for the long haul and to stay positive, to not be so hard on themselves. But words are only going to take you so far. Nothing boosts your confidence like winning.
I can see it in the guys on the mound. They’re not pressing. They’re locating the fastball, keeping batters off balance. They understand they don’t have to overpower everybody. It’s been a great week so far.
Feel free to write in with questions or comments. It’d be great to hear what you’re thinking.