July 2010

Thanks for the warm welcome

            I wrote a blog for almost three seasons in San Francisco and loved the connection it gave me with the fans. So I’m looking forward to getting to know Rangers fans through these posts and also, I hope, to giving you a glimpse into what it’s like to be a major-league player.

            First, the trade.

            To be honest, it’s a real blow to be traded. I loved the players and staff at the Giants, so to suddenly find myself off the team, it’s kind of a shock to the system. You’re leaving a group of guys, and an entire organization, that you know inside and out. And you don’t know what it’s going to be like on your new team. You have to learn new routines, get to know the coaches and training staff and, as a catcher, I have to quickly get to know my pitchers.

            Well, I have to tell you, everyone here has been unbelievable. These are very, very nice people. They have made me feel a part of the team right from the first minute. Michael Young texted me right away, before I even arrived, to welcome me and say he was excited about me joining the team.

            My first day with the team, there was a rain delay and the game didn’t start until 9:30, so I had a lot of time to meet everyone and start to get to know them. Another thing that has helped is that the Rangers have meetings every day to go over opposing hitters and opposing pitchers. This helps me a lot because I’ve been in the NL and don’t know the AL players very well.

            Maybe the biggest help of all has been Matt Treanor. I wasn’t sure if it would be awkward because I’m coming in to play the same position. You feel like you’re intruding at first so you kind of just look around and try to figure out what’s going on. But Matt came right up to me and started talking about the pitchers. He gave me the whole scoop on each guy, what to look for, what each guy’s tendencies are. I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with that guy.

            But I know that you can’t really know a pitcher until you actually catch him. So I’ve been learning what works for each guy, how they are when they need a big pitch, what they need when they get a little rattled. I have to say this staff is easy to catch. They’re really open-minded and get right down to work. Real pros.

Here’s one funny thing that happened. One of the clubbies picked me up at my hotel on my first day here. He knew my uniform number was 1 with the Angels and Giants. He asked if I wanted the same number with the Rangers.

“Doesn’t Elvis Andrus wear No. 1?” I asked.

“He’s a rookie!” the clubbie said.

“I don’t care,” I said. “I’m not going to come in and take a number away from somebody.”

The clubbie said he had number 11 available.

“OK! There we go!”

Number 11 happens to be the number on the first uniform my father ever gave me. (One thing you’ll get to know about me is how important my father was in my life, as he was in the lives of my two brothers, Yadier and Jose. He died suddenly almost two years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.) Anyway, I think I was five or six years old when he gave me that uniform with the number 11 on it. It became my favorite number – and the number I wore every year until I was 17. So it feels good to be wearing it again.

That’s it for now.

Thanks so much for the warm welcome all of you have given me. I know I’ve got to start hitting. I’m seeing the ball well and swinging well, so I know it will come. My wife, Jamie, and our baby, Jayda, are now settled in the house we rented just five minutes from the park. (Jayda, who turned 1 earlier this month, just started walking!) My mother and aunt have also been here from Puerto Rico to help us get settled. And my two daughters from Yuma have been here, too. So it already feels like home.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Thanks again for all the kind words and cheers. I am so excited and grateful to be here with the Rangers. This is a very, very talented team that is going to be fun to watch right through October!

Thanks For Everything

            I’m
in a hotel room in Denver with Jamie and Jayda, still adjusting to the sudden
change in our lives. We have a 7:30 flight tonight to Dallas. The Rangers are
playing today in Anaheim, then returning to Texas tomorrow, so they told me
just to meet up with them there. We’ll stay in a hotel until the All-Star
break, then figure out living arrangements for the rest of the season. At some
point, Jamie will have to pack up our stuff in the Bay Area and have it all
shipped.

            This
is baseball. Or at least the business of baseball. As players, we know our
livelihoods are in someone else’s hands for the most part. That lack of control
over who you work with and where you live, though, is a small price for the
unbelievable opportunity to play baseball for a living – and to earn a salary
most of us never thought possible for ourselves.

Players don’t talk about
this part of the game much, the part about getting traded. Publicly, you shrug
and roll with it. But any player who tells you it doesn’t sting is lying. It’s
because you get so close to the people on your team – not just your teammates
but their families. Jamie is great friends with a lot of the wives, so it’s a
huge loss for her, too.

I feel that in this blog
for the last three seasons, I’ve always been honest with you. So I will be
honest now: News of the trade felt like a blow to the stomach. I love the guys
on the Giants. I have loved playing in front of the fans in San Francisco.

            The
way I found out is a sign of the speed-of-light information superhighway. We
were landing in Denver last night and Travis Ishikawa asked me something like,
“Do you know what happened?”

            “No,
what happened?” I asked, but he didn’t answer.

            Then
Freddy Sanchez sat down next to me, “Hey, are you OK?”

            “Yeah,
what’s going on?”

            “Are
you going to be OK? I’m sorry, man. I’m so sorry,” he said.

            I
still didn’t know what he was talking about.

            Then
Pat Burrell says, “It’s been an honor playing with you. You’re a class act.”

            I
guess everyone had seen it on the internet or had received messages about it. I
turned on my phone and there was a text from Jamie: “We’re off to Texas.”

            I
thought, “What the heck?”

            When
I reached Jamie on the phone, she told me it was all over the news: I had been
traded for a relief pitcher and a player to be named later.

            One
by one, my teammates – especially the pitchers – gave me hugs and thanked me
for the help I had given them over the years. When we were all on the bus
heading to the hotel, I stood up in the aisle and faced the team.

            “I
just want to say thanks for being such great teammates and for taking care of
me. I’m really going to miss you guys,” I said. “You have what it takes to win
this thing, and I’m going to watching as much as I can. You guys have my
number. Even if I’m not your teammate any more, I’ll always be your friend.”

            I
was about to sit down when everyone started to clap. Then they stood and
clapped some more. It was an amazing feeling.

            I
received tons of text messages all through the night, including a really nice
one from Buster Posey. He wanted to stop by my room to talk in person but his
dinner ran late. He wished me the best of luck and thanked me for what I taught
him. I texted him back to thank him for how great he was to me and that I
appreciated how humble and professional he was. I thanked him for his
friendship and for his wife being so friendly to Jamie. I told him I’d always
be rooting for him,

            In
my last blog entry, I want to make sure to thank the clubbies everyone in the
training room, the Giants staff and all the coaches. They are great people.

            This
has been such a great experience the last four seasons. Now I have to look
ahead. I talked to the Rangers general manager last night and he was very
upbeat about how I could contribute to the team. It’s exciting to be joining a
team in first place, and to be sharing a clubhouse again with my old Angels
teammate, Vladimir Guerrero. This is a new challenge for me and it’s going to
be fun to get to know all these new players and coaches and figure out how I
can help them win.

            Thanks
for reading this over the past few seasons. I hope our paths cross again.