I ended yesterday’s post saying it’s impossible not to be excited and ready to play with this team.
Juan Uribe is one of those guys who seems to carry a current of electricity inside him. He makes things happen whether he’s in the clubhouse or on the field. Before games, he’s at the center of the fierce Domino games at the table near my locker. He, Renteria, Brian Wilson and a few others are there slamming the tiles down and hooting at each other. On the field, well, you’ve seen what he can do. Two home runs and a triple yesterday. He always finds a way to get us going and keep us fired up.
Then there’s Pablo, who continues to amaze all of us. That play yesterday at first? He was like Superman flying to right to stop that ball. He might not look like your typical star athlete, but he’s such a natural. He has all the tools. He’s fast. He’s strong. Look at his forearms. They’re huge. He’s incredibly agile – you have to be agile to play third base, first base and catcher. Plus he can hit. He’s the whole package.
And having Freddie Sanchez back in the lineup really makes a difference. He’s a proven Number 2 hitter. He can go the other way. He’s not afraid of a sacrifice bunt. He knows how to move the runners over. He makes the whole line-up stronger.
It’s always a shot in the arm when we get the September call-ups and the young guys join the team for the last month of the season. Much was made last week about the Giants management “trying to light my fire” by adding Buster Posey to the roster. When reporters asked if I thought the Giants were “sending me a message,” I answered honestly. I didn’t think that’s what was happening. But I said IF the Giants were trying to send me a message to heal faster from my muscle strain, it’s kind of an odd thing to do. I have never given less than 100 percent, and the Giants know that, so what would be the point of “sending a message”? I think it was reporters looking for an angle.
So before the game the other day, I was standing near Posey in front of some reporters and joked, “Hey, you better not light that fire too much. I don’t want you to burn my ***!” Buster kind of looked at me funny. I guess he hadn’t read the paper. Later I explained it to him. He laughed. That kid is amazing. He’s so humble. Such a nice guy. I think he’s going to be a superstar.
I saw him sitting one day by himself in the dugout, so I called him over, (I wasn’t playing, either.) We started talking about catching and strategy and how to last a long time in the big leagues. If he’s going to take my job someday, I want him to be the best. I want him to take care of these pitchers. I want him to help these guys and be a winner. I’d love to stay here and work with Posey when the time comes. I don’t want to go anywhere else. But it’s the Giants’ decision to make. It’s out of my control.
The truth is I don’t spend much time thinking about what’s going to happen next season. I’m thinking about right now, today. Who are we facing? How do we pitch them? How to win this game and then the next game? Nothing’s better than playing games that matter in September.
Thanks for reading. See you at the park!
First, thanks for the wonderful comments so many of you left on my last post. I try always to have a positive outlook on life even when I’m struggling at the plate. How can I not have a positive outlook? I am so blessed to be playing this game.
But sometimes, when the balls aren’t falling and you don’t come through when your teammates need you, it’s difficult not to get frustrated and disappointed. So your comments truly lifted my spirits. I carry your thoughts with me every day onto the field. I play so hard because I know I’m playing not just for myself. I’m playing for my teammates and the Giants organization, of course, but it’s so important to me to play hard for the people who come out to our games and watch us on TV or listen on the radio and send us all their great energy. I can’t thank you enough for always being in my corner.
Second, sorry I haven’t written much lately. I’m trying to do better.
Going back to Randy Johnson’s 300th, it was awesome to be part of that. As you know, it wasn’t the greatest setting: wet and dreary and only a few thousand fans on hand in Washington, D.C. But Randy was unbelievable: He allowed just one unearned run in six innings, and even at the age of 45, he dove at a comebacker and barehanded it to throw the guy out.
My adrenaline about the historic milestone didn’t kick in until the eighth. We were ahead 2-1 and Brian Wilson was facing Adam Dunn with two outs and the bases loaded. Wilson had a 3-2 count on Dunn. That’s when you start thinking about the 300th game. How could we possibly walk in the run that ruined Johnson’s victory. Wilson threw a fastball that crossed the plate at Dunn’s knees. The umpire didn’t call anything, and I held the ball a little longer, showing that the ball was in the strike zone. The ump called a strike and we were out of the inning. I’m sure it’s lot of weight off Randy’s shoulders to have the 300th win under his belt.
It’s been fun to watch this team develop its personality. If you walked into our clubhouse, you’d always hear someone laughing – most likely Juan Uribe or Pablo Sandoval. Those two guys always find a way to have fun. They’re always making comments to make the rest of us laugh, even in the middle of a game. When Pablo hit a double recently and I ran from first to third, he yelled from second base about me needing some oxygen and covered his face as if he were holding an oxygen mask. When Juan hit his first home run of the season a few weeks ago in Arizona, it was Pablo’s idea to give Juan the silent treatment when he came back into the dugout. Everybody just sat in the dugout, ignoring Juan. He didn’t know what to do. He kept saying, “I don’t care, I don’t care.” Then we all got up and laughed and congratulated him.
That’s what makes a team come together. You can laugh and tease each other like a family because the truth is for eight months we’re around each other more than we’re around our families. We have a good balance of veteran guys, young guys, quiet guys, loud guys. Everyone, the Latin players and the American players, all get along and don’t break off into little groups like on some teams.
That’s one of those little things that keep a team together during rough times. We’re playing right now the way I knew we could play. Our starting pitching is the best in the league, and our bullpen is right up there, too. We get hits from different guys in the line-up every night. We’re just going to keep chipping away at the Dodgers’ lead.
We’re in Oakland tonight, which is great for me: Closer commute from Lafayette!
See you at the ballpark.
I’m in the clubhouse waiting for Game 2 of our series against the Dodgers.
I was so happy to see Brian Wilson come back last night in Game 1 after giving up three runs in the ninth on Sunday. He was hitting the spots, which is the most important thing for me. We were mixing up the pitches really well.
I know there’s been a little dust-up over his Twittering or whatever it is. To be honest, I really don’t know what the whole thing was about. But you need to know that Brian Wilson is the hardest-working guy we have on the club. If you could see the way he works out, you’d be amazed.
He feels that if his body is invincible, his mind will be, too. It gives him a feeling that no one can beat him. No one should have any doubt that baseball is his top priority – because as all his teammates know, it IS his top priority.
When the season began, I took a pen and wrote something underneath the bill on my Giants cap.
“All out everyday.”
It’s something my dad always said to me. Now that he’s gone, he can’t remind me anymore. So I wrote it there. I see it every time I put on or take off my cap. I long ago stopped needing his reminder to play all out everyday. It’s what I do. It’s part of who I am as a player.
But I still needed to hear it. Not for the words. But for his words. The way he said it was like another way of saying he loved me. It was his way of still being my dad. He knew I always played all out. But he still said it because it was a thing between us, something he had been saying since I was a child.
Last week, I added another reminder of him, and of my mother, too, to my Giants uniform.
It’s a small patch sewn to the inside of my jersey in the spot that rests over my heart. On the patch are two words: “Mai” and “Pai” – mom and dad.
It was a quiet clubhouse last night, as you might imagine. To lose the fifth game in a row when we were so close after Aaron’s three-run homer – it’s incredibly frustrating. We were all very down and angry at ourselves for not coming through when we needed to. As frustrated as you are as fans, let me assure you we are ten times more frustrated as players.
What’s going wrong? A few obvious things.
We haven’t been putting the ball in play. You have to give a lot of credit to the opposing pitchers. They’ve been throwing great. That’s been a factor. Then the longer you go without hitting, the more you start pressing. And when you lose four, five games in a row, you go up to the plate trying to hit a seven-run homer with no one on.
Second, we haven’t been making our pitches. We’re not hitting our spots. We’re falling behind in counts. If we’re going for a fastball away, we’re leaving it over the plate. Curve balls are hanging. We need to hit the corners for strikes. Our poor hitting isn’t helping the pitchers – it puts even more pressure on them.
Last night was a killer because we were so close. Wilson came in in a tough situation – bottom of the ninth, tie game, bases loaded, no outs. He got a grounder to short – exactly what you want — but we couldn’t turn the double play. So with Loney up – who had hit a sacrifice fly on a high fastball earlier in the game – we wanted to keep the ball down so he’d keep it on the ground and we’d get a second shot at a double play.
Unfortunately, on a 3-2 count, the fastball was too low and Loney walked. Game over.
Like the other veterans on the team, I talk to the young guys and remind them that it’s a long season. We’re not even out of April yet. We have to stick together and work hard and make sure each of us does everything we can to be ready for every play, every pitch. That’s all you can do, and inning by inning, game by game, you rebuild.
The truth is, our young guys are handling this rough stretch really well – with much greater perspective than you might expect. Pablo Sandoval, who has really been struggling at the plate, is still really positive and energetic. His attitude is great – he lifts everybody up.
And Timmy’s another kid who has such a positive attitude no matter what’s happening. He loves the challenge of things. He knows what he’s facing, and he’s got that fierce competitiveness that gives you no doubt he’ll be absolutely fine.
I think returning home tomorrow and playing in our own park in front of our own fans will close the chapter on this awful past week and we can start fresh.
I know you’re disappointed and frustrated as fans. But it’s more important than you can imagine to stick with us. Don’t turn your backs on us in the tough times. We’re working as hard as we can to break out of this, and I know we will. We need you there with us in good times and bad – maybe even more so in the bad times.
I hope to see you this weekend when we play the Diamondbacks. This is a great group of players, and an even better group of men.
One thing I can promise: This team will never give up. I hope you won’t either.