Preparing for a game
A great game against the Rockies yesterday. Timmy pitched
unbelievable — he’d get my vote for Cy Young, that’s for sure. And it was
great when I returned to the dugout after my home run only to see Pablo
Sandoval hit one out on the very next pitch.
This kid is the real deal. I love this guy. He wants to win games, and
that’s what I’m about. And he wants to learn. He’s always asking me
questions about what to do in different situations, and he listens. I talk to
him not just about playing baseball but about being an adult. Be humble. Be
polite. Be a human being first, a Major League ballplayer second. But he
really doesn’t need that advice because he’s already a really nice kid.
It was tough to lose the two games to the Rockies after winning five in
a row. Jamie, my girlfriend, thinks I take the losses too hard. I lay in bed at
night and recreate the game a dozen times, going over and over what we
could have done differently, how we could do better tomorrow.
She’s always trying to take my mind off the game, which I appreciate
because you can drive yourself crazy. So we play these marathon sessions of
Boggle. I think I tied her once in about 250 games. She gets 30 or 35 points
in a game, and I get about 7. But every new game, I think I’m going to win.
Maybe that’s why I made it to the Majors — I always believe I’m going to
win. We also walk from our house in the Marina to Crissy Field with our
dog, Chico. I love throwing the ball to him and watching him run around.
Jamie and my two daughters took Chico to the ballpark for Dog Days of
Summer and sat in the bleachers with him. Everybody, including Chico, had
a great time.
Now that school has started, I see my daughters only on the weekends
when we’re in San Francisco. Otherwise, they’re in Yuma. If there is one
downside to baseball, it’s being away from your family. It’s something you
never get used to.
Somebody asked me about my pregame preparation. So I’ll take you
through what I do before the first game of a series. That’s when there is the
most work because we’re refreshing our memories about the players we
have already faced during the season and learning about the new players we
haven’t seen. (The subsequent games in the series don’t require quite as
If it’s a 7:15 p.m. game, I usually arrive to the ballpark around 2. I go
into the hot tub for about 10 minutes to warm my body. Then I go to the
trainer for treatment on whatever body part is sore — there is always
something, and usually more than one thing. I’ve been taking a pounding on
my glove hand from foul tips. My hands look like they belong to two
different men. The fingers on my glove hand are about one-and-a-half times
as thick as the ones on my throwing hand, and they’re a different color —
more red than brown. The knuckles look like misshapen knots on a tree. I’m
guessing I have at least two fractures, but they’ll have to wait until the end
of the season to heal – not that there is really much to be done anyway. They
just have to left alone.
As you might imagine, I have bruises all over my body from pitches
and foul tips that didn’t make it into my glove. One constant sore spot is the
tendinitis in my right heel. Every day before games, the trainer treats it —
and other problem spots — with ultrasound to get more blood circulating to
After the training room, I go the video room, which has monitors for
all the players and coaches to use. Danny Martin on the Giants staff does a
great job of putting together clips of every hitter and pitcher on the opposing
team. I can look at all the recent at-bats of every player on their team. I can
watch them just against righties or just against lefties. I can watch what they
have done on certain pitch counts. It’s amazing the information that is
available to us.
I follow this up by studying the thick packet of charts and statistics
that breaks down the tendencies of each batter — the paper version of what I
had just been watching on video. I can see which pitches most often get a
particular batter out on particular counts. And I can see which pitches they
tee off on in different situations.
Then I check my mail, listen to my phone messages and maybe
watch a little TV before going to a meeting for the pitchers and catchers
at 3:30. With Rags, Bochy, Gardner and the other coaches, we go over all
the hitters. Then I eat — maybe a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich and a
Diet Coke — then get dressed for stretching and batting practice. After that,
I’ll have another meeting with the starting pitcher. We’ll go over the
opposing team’s starting lineup. A half-hour before the game, I’ll run a
little and throw the ball around to keep loose.
Then it’s “Let’s go!”