August 2009

Who We Are

I’m not in the game again today because of a tight quad, so I have a few minutes to post a blog.

         I don’t listen to the talk shows so I personally haven’t heard the comments about our tough loss to the Rockies Monday. But I’m told people were dumping on everyone from the players to the manager. Some apparently were saying our season was over.

         Granted, it was a heart breaker. When the home-run ball was sailing over the wall, I just sat in the dugout with my head in my hands. Just minutes earlier, when Eugenio hit the triple, I was thinking, “This is our game.” Then suddenly it was over. We lost. I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking, “Is this really happening?”

         But I have to tell you, nobody was thinking, “Oh, this guy lost the game for us, or that guy didn’t do his job.” Merkin Valdez was put in a very, very tough position. When he came in, the damage had been done. The bases were loaded. He went right after the hitter. That’s what he had to do. Go with his best stuff. Go after him and hope for a double play. It was a good pitch. I don’t think he could have done anything different.

The thing about that game – which maybe some fans lost sight of — is that every single guy battled his butt off. Every guy left everything he had on that field. Nobody gave up. They showed so much fight.

         In the clubhouse afterward, on the bus to the airport and on the plane ride home, there wasn’t a sound from anybody. We felt crushed and exhausted. When we walked down the steps of the plane onto the tarmac in San Francisco – at around 3 a.m. — Bochy was standing there at the bottom, greeting every guy, telling us we battled our butts off and that there was no batting practice tomorrow and to get some rest.

         I’m not sure how Bochy comes across through the media, but I’ve played for a lot of different managers, and I feel so lucky to have a manager of the caliber and strength of Bruce Bochy. People don’t understand what a great job he’s done with this team. Maybe you can’t really appreciate how good he is unless you’re on the inside watching what he does. He’s been awesome. That game on Sunday against Colorado, Bochy and our bench coach, Ron Wotus, did an amazing job. They’re always on the same page, figuring everything out, what moves to make, which arms are fresh. They have to consider so many different things. I really admire how they go about their business.

         Same with the pitching coaches, Righetti and Gardner. They’re the ones who scout the hitters and talk to Eli and me. They do a superb job. They get you ready for every game. I have never been so prepared for games on any other team I’ve played on. These two guys are unbelievable.

         When I arrived at the park yesterday afternoon, I was wondering how much the loss to the Rockies was going to affect the team. It was such a long, tough road trip. We got in late. Most of us didn’t go to sleep until about 6 in the morning. Then we came back here a few hours later.

         When I walked into the clubhouse, everyone was great. They were joking like they always do. There was a lot of energy. That told me a lot. How you bounce back from such a heart-breaking loss reveals what you’re all about. Some teams might have been dragging. But these guys had a great attitude. They’re always ready to go.

         And in another tough game last night, we battled and won. We don’t play many easy games, that’s for sure. It makes it exciting, I guess. But I think I’m ready for a few easy ones . . .

         See you at the park.

A Much Happier Flight to NY

If anyone at the park today was watching their first Giants-Dodgers game, they learned everything they need to know about this rivalry. This was an unbelievable game – like an entire season of highs and lows in one afternoon.

We had the benches clear in the fifth inning when the Dodgers pitcher hit Pablo. I was on deck, and Pablo was definitely hit on the arm. I thought at first they were arguing that Pablo had swung through, which meant even if he was hit, it’s a strike and he doesn’t go to first. But they said the ball hit the bat first then his arm, which wasn’t the case.

Pablo thought McDonald was intentionally trying to hit him, which is a judgment call on his part. Maybe he and McDonald have a history in the minor leagues or something. I don’t know. But you always back up your teammate, no matter what. I grabbed Russell Martin, the catcher, who wasn’t happy that Pablo was accusing his pitcher of intentionally hitting him. I was telling him to take it easy. Basically, your job as a teammate when the benches clear is to keep your teammates safe. You try to grab whoever you can to keep them from getting hurt or getting tossed.

Obviously, we don’t like the Dodgers, and they don’t like us. The only thing you hope is that nobody gets hurt. And nobody did.

Timmy pitched such a great game it’s a shame he didn’t get the win. Late in the game, I was just telling him to keep making his pitches. Don’t try to throw harder or slower. Just make his pitches the way he always does. It was a killer not to get the call at first. We get that call, and maybe the game is over in nine.

We had more than little bad luck as far as the calls during this series. I hated to see Bochy thrown out of the game, but I understand it. It’s frustrating when it seems like all the calls are going against you. It’s hard for everybody when the manager’s tossed. You want him making the decisions. We have great coaches, though. After Wotus got thrown out, Flannery took over. I was wondering who was going to manage if Flannery got tossed. Maybe Murph. He’s certainly seen more baseball in his 50-something years with the team than all of us put together.

But I’m not going to be too harsh on the umps. They’re human. They have bad days like the rest of us.

The best part of the game, of course, was watching Juan Uribe’s monster home run sail over Ramirez’s head. Ramirez didn’t even watch it. He just started walking off the field.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of rushing onto the field when a teammate hits a walk-off home run – much less in a game like this. Against the Dodgers. Ten innings. And it was especially exciting because it was Juan. He had a tough day. Left runners on base. Dropped the pop-up. I haven’t talked to him but I’m guessing the sun was in his eyes.

And then he clobbers the ball.

That’s the great part of this game. With one pitch, one swing, you change your whole day. Maybe you change a whole season.

This is a huge win. That goes without saying. It’s especially big not only because it’s against the Dodgers and the first-place team, but because we’re heading out to New York and the start of a long road trip. This win – and HOW we won – gives us so much positive energy going onto the road.

I’m heading home for a few hours before I have to catch a plane tonight. We have a day off tomorrow in New York. I’ll be resting.

I’ll try to update the blog sometime during the road trip.

Thanks for reading and for supporting us. This is an amazing team. I love coming to the ballpark every day because I get to watch these great guys play.

Yes, A New Post!

I know, I know, it’s been way too long. Those of you who are parents know, with a new baby, it’s not easy finding a minute to do anything but change diapers, give baths, pat burps from her tiny body and just look at her. Jamie and I are so happy to have little Jayda in our lives.

She was born Saturday, July 11, at 1:15 in the afternoon. Jamie went into labor on Friday afternoon. I called Dave Groeschner, the Giant’s head athletic trainer, to ask him to tell Boch I had to miss the game. (I had a new phone and didn’t have Boch’s cell phone number.) After we got Jamie settled in the hospital, we turned on the game. It was in the second inning with Jonathan Sanchez pitching and Eli Whiteside catching. All I was thinking about – at least as far as anything beyond Jamie and the delivery – was pulling for the guys to win. Then along about the seventh inning, I started to think, “Hey, he might throw a no-hitter.”

With every out, Jamie, her mother and I got more and more excited. At the final out, we were all yelling and cheering. It’s just such a rare thing, an unbelievable thing, to pitch a no-hitter. The only time I’ve ever seen one in person was on September 11, 1999, when I was with the Angels and Eric Milton of the Twins no-hit us. It was an 11 a.m. game in the Metrodome because the University of Minnesota had a football game there that night. The Angels manager at the time, Joe Maddon, sat most of the starters, so I wasn’t even in the line-up.

But I can honestly say, while I watched Jonathan Sanchez and Eli Whiteside, I never thought, “Oh, I wish I was catching.” I would want to be there to celebrate the occasion, of course, but I’m not one for coulda, woulda, shoulda. That was Eli’s game. I strongly believe that what is for you is for you. What is not for you is not for you. Maybe if I were there, Jonathan wouldn’t have pitched a no-hitter. It was meant to be that Jonathan and Eli had the no-hitter and not me.

Again, because I didn’t have everybody’s number in my new phone, I couldn’t call Jonathan. So I sent a text to Groesch and he showed it to Jonathan. Then I congratulated him and Eli in person on the following Sunday when I returned to the team.

I spent Friday and Saturday nights at the hospital with Jamie and the baby. As you can imagine, the birth was amazing, very emotional, very loving. Jayda was perfectly healthy with a thick mop of black hair. She’s beautiful – takes after Jamie. My brother Jose, who plays for the Yankees, flew in on Sunday night and spent the All-Star break with us and helped us welcome Jayda into our family.

I know for the last couple months, my numbers at the plate have not been great. Everybody thinks I’m struggling and I must be getting down on myself. But that’s not the case. I’ve been swinging the bat well and hitting the ball well. But they just haven’t been falling. Even Boch told me he’s never seen anything like it in his career, such a string. Now, the last few games, the balls are dropping again. But I feel the same at the plate as I have all season. Now the balls are just finding the holes. People can call it a slump if they want to. But I didn’t feel that way at all.

Dodgers come into town tomorrow. We can’t wait. This is the time to make up some ground in the division. We’re ready.

Thanks for all your kind words and good wishes for Jamie, Jayda and me.