April 2010

Brothers and opponents

Before today’s
game, Barry Zito was answering questions from a large group of young
ballplayers. The last question was about me and Yadier. A boy asked what he
thought about me and Yadier playing against each other and what it was like
when one of us was catching while the other was at bat.

            Zito
said he and Timmy were just talking about it last night and were joking about
whether I am telling them the truth about Yadi’s weaknesses when we’re going
over the scouting report before the game – or if I’m helping Yadi to do well.

            I
know my teammates don’t really think that, of course. They know Yadi and I have
a wall between our personal and professional lives. When he stole a base the
other night, and then when I caught him stealing yesterday, we didn’t say a
word to each other about it. Not a word. He knows that he did a good job
getting a jump on Tim when Timmy wasn’t paying attention. I don’t have to tell
him that. And I certainly am not going to say anything to him about getting
thrown out yesterday.

            You
might see us talking and even laughing at the plate when one of us comes up to
bat, but usually it’s making fun of each other for taking foul tips and getting
beat up behind the plate.

            Speaking
of which . . .

            Someone
asked me after yesterday’s game about the foul top that smashed me straight on
the mask. Yes, it hurts. But that’s not why I say a quick prayer every time it
happens. I know if you get hit enough like that, you can be out of the game. It
happened to Mike Matheny. He had to end his career when he suffered a head
injury after taking a series of foul balls to his mask.

So when that ball
hit me yesterday, I thought, “Please, God, let me be all right.”

            The
hit left a little burn under my left eye but otherwise I was OK.

During our first
series in Houston, I took a foul tip straight to the front of the mask and I
got a little whiplash. The back of my head and neck were hurting and I almost
came out of the game, but they decided to keep in me in. Believe me, I wanted
to stay in the game But I do wonder why, when a batter gets hit on the helmet
by a pitch, he’s kept out of the game to make sure there’s no concussion and
that he’s OK. But they don’t take the same precautions when a catcher takes a
blow to the head.

            We’ve
got Matt Cain on the mound today. Here we go.

Getting back in the swing

We had a hitters’ meeting
yesterday. No surprise, right? We have driven in just three of the last
41runners in scoring position. We had a chance to win all five of those losses
on the road trip. All five. Every game could have gone either way. If you think
it’s frustrating to watch it on TV, I will tell you it’s a hundred times worse
when you’re watching from the dugout.

The less you hit,
the more you press, even though you’re telling yourself not to press. You get
in the batter’s box and you want so badly to help the team. It’s a 1-0 game,
and the pitcher has been phenomenal and working so hard, and you know with one
swing you can tie it up. Your bat seems to want to attack every pitch. You try
to be patient, to just make contact, just get something going, but I think
subconsciously you’re trying for the 10-run homer.

So in the meeting,
I stood up and told the guys, “This team has a lot of heart. Don’t let give
games dictate the whole year. Keep your confidence. Keep having fun out
there.”

Bam-Bam said the
same thing. He wanted to make sure guys weren’t getting down on themselves. He
went over some things – being patient at the plate, choosing your pitches —
but he told us not to worry, we’ll be fine.

And we will. I
know this team.

When I got the
first base yesterday, Albert Pujols told me that he was struggling, too, with
runners in scoring position. He said he had left the last 10 runners stranded.

“Hey, B-Mo, you’re
a great hitter,” he said. “All you have to do is be more patient. You’re the
best hitter with a man on third base, so most of the pitchers are going to be
throwing you balls. So just be patient.”

It meant a lot
that he was trying to lift me up.

I was hoping to
spend some time with Yadier while he’s here with the Cardinals, but it doesn’t
looking like I’ll get to see him except at the park.

On Thursday, our
off, day, Yadier was busy. And on Friday he had to get to the park early, so we
didn’t see each other. And after Friday night’s game, I was still battling a
cold so I decided not to go out with him and Jonathan Sanchez, who Yadier got
to know during winter ball a couple years ago. (My not going out with him had
nothing to do with the fact Yadier stole a base on me! Maybe I’ll get him back tonight
. . .)

            See
you at the ballpark!

Returning home

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So great to be back in the Bay Area. I don’t even mind the rain. Jamie, Jayda and I (and my niece Jennifer from New York, who’s helping out with Jayda while Jamie recovers from wrist surgery) are back in the same great Lafayette house we rented last year. Saturday night one of our neighbors is having us over for a “welcome back” barbecue.
I have to tell you that it was very emotional for me Thursday night when I stepped into the Giants clubhouse and then onto the field. I had said my goodbyes to this place last year. I thought I wasn’t going to be back. When I walked in and headed to my locker, I thought, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m here.’ ” 
I really love this place and this team. It’s like family to me. I feel like the dad to all these young guys. So returning here has been like getting my family back.
Today we got to meet a lot of fans at the “Play Ball” luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco. It’s a fundraiser for “Junior Giants” and the Giants Community Fund, and they were saying they raised about $300,000, which is amazing. There were almost 1400 people there. Some of the fans didn’t know the new guys, so I heard that Jeremy Affeldt was pushing people toward Mark DeRosa because no one was asking for his autograph. Another of the new guys, Aubrey Huff, made a colorful first impression with his purple plaid pants. (I’ve included a photo here.) I noticed that Brian Wilson is so dedicated to his nutrition regimen that he actually brought his own lunch today in a vacuum-sealed bag.
A few of the Junior Giants player got to ask questions of the big-league players. One kid wanted to know who Affeldt would be if he could become one of his teammates for a day. “Brian Wilson because five minutes inside that dome would be awesome!”
And someone else asked Sandoval who would be the toughest opponent in a wrestling match, and he gave the answer I think most of us would: “Juan Uribe!”
I can’t wait for the season to start on Monday. I’ve been telling Jamie that there’s something really special about this team. Everything we’ve been working for the last three years, this is the year it’s all going to come together. I really feel that.
See you this weekend and then for Opening Day on Friday!
PlayBall Lunch: Aubrey Huff and a Junior Giant
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