Back in the clubhouse for another spring

This is my 12th Major League Spring Training, and every year it’s different. Each of us is a slightly different player from what we were last year. We know more, or we’re in better shape, or maybe we’ve aged a little. The combination of players is slightly, or significantly, changed.

What stays the same is you’re always excited. You’re always optimistic. But sometimes you feel something a little extra. This is one of those springs.

TimLincecum.jpgFor one, what’s better for a catcher than having three Cy Young Award winners in the starting rotation, plus an All-Star closer? And the young guys are one year more experienced and seasoned.

The feeling I get in this clubhouse is that we feel we can win. There’s a feeling among ourselves that we can do this, no matter what anyone OUTSIDE the clubhouse says. We’re the only ones who know what this team is capable of. What you can’t see in the statistics is how much these guys want to win and how hard everyone worked in the offseason. Every single player showed up in shape. That says something about the team’s desire and dedication.

OK, we’re only a week into Spring Training. I know. And there are some questions that probably won’t be answered until close to the season begins. But if you could see how, even this early, everyone is carrying himself, how loose everyone is, how happy we were to see everyone again.

I spent the first part of the week catching for the pitchers — we show up earlier than the rest of the team, as you know. I’ve learned over the years just to leave the pitchers alone for the first week. They need to do their own thing to get ready. They don’t need to hear anything from me.

By tomorrow or Sunday, I’ll sit down with each pitcher. We’ll talk about their goals for the season, what they might be working on during Spring Training, what they want the ball to do, how they’re feeling, whether they want anything different from me. I keep a little notebook where I write down anything that might be new.

I also leave my hitting alone early in Spring Training. I give my mind a rest until the games start. In batting practice, I’m just trying to get the rust off, get my bat ready for swings. I’m not working on anything specifically — just getting loose.

We all work a lot on conditioning during the spring, building a solid foundation for the rest of the season. This team’s trainers do such a great job building us up gradually, understanding that a baseball season is a marathon not a sprint. They keep working with us through the year, so by October we’re still fresh.

I worked in particular during the offseason on my legs. I increased the weights and built strength. As you get older, you have to keep working harder so you don’t fall behind.

There’s not much news to report during Spring Training, at least until the games start. But I’ll try to post as often as I can.

Thanks for reading. And thanks especially for all the lovely notes about my father’s passing and for sharing your own stories with me.

10 Comments

Welcome back! While I know it’s a lot of work – I can only imagine how excited you must be to be back in camp. I hope the Giants do really well this season and I hope you all stay healthy! Good luck!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

Great to hear from you again…my favorite pro blog. I’m excited to see how you guys do this year. I think the giants have the potential to dominate the nl west!
-Kathy
http://redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com

So good to read your words again. I never saw if you made a decision on the WBC? Any new?
http://kmcleod.mlblogs.com/

Good luck this year. Stay healthy.

And thanks for 2002!

Tom, longtime Angels fan.
http://tomsballpark.mlblogs.com/

Thanks for updating for us again, Bengie! I’m so excited to see what happens during Spring Training. I can’t wait til the season starts!🙂

Great to hear form you again! I too have a great feeling about this year, and can’t wait until the games start. I was just wondering if there is anything that you do to get ready for pitchers you’ve never worked with before, particularly someone like the Big Unit. Anyway, thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you in April.

Congrats on being #45 on the latest Pro Bloggers Leader’s List.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Hey Bengie I hope you have another good year. It was nice to meet you at Fan Fest. I talked to you a few times. You kept walking by me. I was leaning aginst the fence that you kept walking by every time you stepped on the field. I have a pic of you on my blog that says Giants fan fest. I have a few others that I didn’t post yet.

~King of Cali
http://kingofcali.mlblogs.com/

Hi Bengie!
Just wanted to say hello and let you know how much you are appreciated! In 1998 my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and she was treated at UCI hospital in Orange, CA (right next to Angel Stadium). She was an amazing girl, but unfortunately she lost her battle in 2000. During her treatment we met another patient, Diana, who was also in treatment. Near the end of Diana?s battle she sent word to you that she was a big fan and you sent her some really cool autographed baseball stuff. She told us what awesome person you were and how much she adored you. She was able to go to the parade in Anaheim in 2002 after the World Series and talked about how happy she was to see you in the parade. I have been a devoted fan ever since and have followed you from the Angels to your current team, (although not exactly in the neighborhood). I am still an Angel fan (live between Orange Co. and LA), but any game with you takes precedence in our household!
Anyway, just found your blog and have always wanted to tell you what an inspiration you are.
Congrats on winning the ?Willie Mac? award, no surprise there. You are an amazing person. You made such an impact on a dying child and her respect and appreciation for you will always be with me. She thought the world of you and I just wanted you to know.
Blessings and best wishes,
Janie

It’s so good to see you blogging again. It just gets me that much more excited for the season to start. It’s always nice to hear what y’all are up to during spring training and to get your take on everything. Thanks for taking the time, I look forward to more blogs from you in the future.

Kim

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