Managing pitchers and giving it everything
In my last blog, I mentioned the psychology of managing pitchers and how this is part of what I love about catching.
People often ask me what I say to pitchers when they see me go to the mound in the middle of a game. First, I should say that I try not to go to the mound too often. I don’t want the pitchers to be thinking I’m there bothering them. I want them to keep their concentration. But I also want to help get them out of trouble when it’s necessary.
And that’s the beauty of catching – reading the situation, knowing the personality of the pitcher, figuring out when it’s too early to say something and when to step in before it’s too late.
When Barry Zito was on the mound during the last game of the homestand and he was walking some guys, I went out there. I didn’t say anything about how he was pitching. He knows what he’s doing. What I told him was that we’re all here behind you. We’re all in a Giants uniform and we’re all in this together. That’s not going to change no matter what the outcome of the game is. We got your back. OK, let’s go.
Sometimes, of course, I remind a pitcher of something the pitching coach told him in the bullpen before the game. Sometimes I’ll just tell a pitcher to stay back, take his time, get into his rhythm.
The beauty of catching is you have to know all the personalities of the pitchers. It’s not always WHAT you say but HOW you say it. Not everything works for everybody.
I’ve been asked how long it takes for me to get to know what works and what doesn’t work for a pitcher. I’d say about five outings. And that goes both ways — that’s about how long it takes the pitcher to learn to trust me as his catcher.
What I really like about this Giants team is how much trust there is in each other. Everybody is looking out for everybody else. The TV cameras, I know, caught me in the dugout recently giving some instruction to Brian Bocock, our young shortstop. I was telling him that he had to be patient in the batter’s box. He was in a new league, facing new pitchers. He needed to wait on the breaking ball and go the other way to right field and not try to pull everything to left.
I was frustrated last season that there were players not playing hard enough. This group of guys is unbelievable. Even when we don’t win, we’re out there giving 150 percent every single day. There is so much heart on this team. Aaron Rowand is out there completely banged up and hurting and still diving for balls. Randy Winn is hurting and he’s going out there every day and putting his body on the line.
Our losses are very, very hard on us, in part because we know the fans take the losses hard, too. The fans are such a big part of what we do. If they’re not behind us, we lose something. I can’t even tell you want it is exactly. But we definitely feel it when the fans are behind us and when they’re not. I want them to know that, regardless of the outcome, we’re leaving everything on the field every day.
More later. Thanks for checking in.