Results tagged ‘ Giants ’

Back in San Francisco

10-25-10

6 p.m.

 

            We flew into the Bay Area this afternoon. Instead of driving over the Bay Bridge to the home I leased for the first half this season, I rode the Rangers team bus to a hotel in the heart of San Francisco. It was weird on the plane to be reading scouting reports of the Giants’ hitters. It’s so strange how things work out. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Giants players at the ballpark, either tomorrow at workouts or Wednesday before the game. Throughout the post-season, Jamie’s been communicating with Kristen Posey, Chelsea Cain, Blanca Kelly (the wife of first-base coach Roberto), Nate Schierholtz’s family, a bunch of others, everyone wishing us luck and Jamie wishing them luck. But we’re not going to be socializing this week, at least I won’t be. I can’t. There is just too much to be thinking about and focusing on.

            As Jamie and I were running errands yesterday in Dallas, we were talking about how lucky we are to have landed with the Rangers. I can’t imagine any other team being as welcoming as the Rangers have been, from the players to the clubbies to the front office staff. After we won the pennant Friday night, our families were invited to join us in the dugout.  Even thought Jamie’s pretty new to the Rangers’ family, every coach and half a dozen of the team owners came up and hugged her and told her she and I were 100 percent a part of this victory. She was holding Jayda in her arms, and they were just looking all around as if it were dream. Jayda was trying to grab the red, white and blue confetti falling everywhere.

            One moment that will stand out for me in the ALCS was the three-run home run.  It wasn’t so much because I was able to come through under pressure, though that’s part of it. You always want to be the guy who steps up. For whatever reason, I’ve had success in the big moments. People started calling me “Big Money” when I was with the Angels and it carried over to the Giants. I think I do well in those situations because I’m not afraid to fail. I feel calm. I put my faith in God. I go to the plate believing absolutely that I will get a hit.

            But two other things were happening when I was rounding the bases that day. First, I was just so happy and grateful that I almost cried. After struggling most of the season with an injured elbow, and getting traded, it was an emotional thing to be able to help my team win. Second, I was thinking of my father, who, as many of you know, died two years ago. I thumped my fist on my heart as I was heading to home. I was thinking, “Pai, this is both of us.” Then I pointed up to my mother and Jamie. None of this means anything without them.

            When reporters talked to me afterward, I made a comment like, “Not bad for the fat kid who everyone made fun of for being so slow.” I was joking but I have to say there was a lot of satisfaction in proving people wrong about me. When I warmed up the starting pitchers during our games in Yankee Stadium, fans near the bullpen chanted, “Ben-gie’s fat! Ben-gie’s fat!” It was kind of funny, of course. They sounded like fourth-graders in the playground. The best part was they chanted in English AND in Spanish to make sure I was absolutely clear about what they were saying. So to drive in the go-ahead runs in front of those fans put a smile on my face.

            Another memorable moment for me was Vladdy’s big hit after the Yankees again intentionally walked Josh Hamilton.  I sat in the dugout and said a little prayer: “Please let him be the man today. If I have a hit coming to me today, give it to him instead.” And then bang – two-run double. I was so happy for him. He’s such a great player and was really struggling during the series. He deserved to be the hero.

            When the game was over, the families not only got to come into the dugout, they were welcomed into the clubhouse for the champagne and beer showers. My mother went home with Jayda, and Jamie came in. She had told me earlier that if she ever got to join in the celebration, she wanted the full deal. She wanted to experience what it was like. As soon as I saw her, I poured two 20-ounce cans of beer over her head. We sprayed champagne at each other – and everyone else. We had a blast. Two hours later, she was still so drenched she could probably have filled a champagne bottle by wringing out her clothes. It was the best night.

            Now back to work. We have a workout tomorrow at AT&T Park, then Game 1 Wednesday.

            When we get back to Dallas, Yadier and Jose will be there. They’re in Puerto Rico right now but they’ll be there cheering me on for Games 3, 4 and, if we need it, 5. With me going to the World Series, now each of us Molina boys has been to two World Series each. Pretty amazing.

             I’m going to try to post on the blog every day. So keep checking in!

Who Would Have Thought?

October 23, 2010

11:30 p.m.

 

            Just finished watching my former team win a spot in the World Series against my current team. It’s amazing that it has turned out this way. I wonder if that’s ever happened before: one player who, in a single season, has been a starter for the two teams that end up playing in the World Series.

But believe me, I’m pulling 150 percent for the Rangers. I love the guys on this team, and I love these fans. When the umpire rung up A-Rod for the final out of the game, all I remember is bolting for the mound and jumping onto Feliz. Everyone else on the team ran in from the bullpen and the dugout and threw themselves on us. I suddenly found myself flatted on the bottom of the pile. I could hardly breathe – that’s a lot of poundage in that pile. I had the ball in my glove and suddenly someone took it out. I later learned it was Feliz, which was fine. But I’m lying there on the infield dirt. I can’t move a muscle – and my face is smashed into Feliz’s Afro. That was nasty. And Matt Treanor is kissing me on the cheek. It was crazy.

When everyone finally peeled themselves away, I looked up into the stands. It was incredible. All through the stadium, tiny bursts of light flashed from thousands of cameras. I could see people cheering and crying. I saw signs that said, “We Believe!” Confetti fluttered all around us. I saw the scoreboard blazing with the words, “Hello World Series!” I felt as if I was in a dream. When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you take nothing for granted. You know how rare and special these moments are. I loved making a lap around the field. The fans here have waited so long for this, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.

I sought out Colby Lewis on the field and hugged him and told him how much I respect and admire him for how he pitched. With so much at stake and so much pressure, he was absolutely locked in. He is exactly what this team is all about: guys who believe in themselves and in each other.

I admit that it’s going to feel weird to play against the Giants. But it’s also a great feeling. I have lots of brothers over in that clubhouse, not just the players but the coaches and clubbies and trainers. So, of course, I was rooting for them all the way, yelling and cheering at my TV.

 I know one of the story lines of this Series will be me and Buster Posey, the rookie who replaced me on the Giants. People seem to have a hard time believing that Buster and I have nothing but affection for each other. He’s a talented, smart and humble kid. I appreciate how he conducts himself and the credit he gives me for teaching him a few things. He texts me all the time, including after we won the pennant Friday night. And I texted him and other Giants players tonight, congratulating them. I’m so happy for all of them. I know how hard they worked.

Do I think my knowledge of the Giants will help me and the Rangers? I sure hope so. But I don’t think it will help to the degree people might think. Obviously, I haven’t been watching their hitters lately, so it will be our scouts and our pitching giving the pitchers and catchers the most accurate and up-to-date info. And as far as hitting the Giants pitchers, I might drive myself crazy trying to out-think them. They know that I know what they like to throw in certain situations, so they’re not going to throw it, or maybe they will because they’ll think I won’t be expecting it. Or something like that. Anyway, I could twist my brain into a pretzel instead of just getting into the box and hitting the ball.

I can’t wait to get to San Francisco and start playing. This is going to be an amazing Series. Both teams have heart. Both teams are fearless.

It’s amazing to think that no matter who wins, I’ll have my second World Series ring. If this is my last year in baseball, what better ending than to have contributed to both teams in the World Series? I couldn’t ask for anything more.

OK, I could ask for one more thing.

Another rush to the pitcher’s mound, another stadium filled with flashing cameras and a scoreboard ablaze with the words, “World Series Champion Texas Rangers!”

Encouraging Words

Got a text this afternoon from Yadier:
“It’s baseball. You got to enjoy it. I know it’s not going good for us. But we’ve been very, very blessed because we’re God’s children. Baseball is second to that. I love you so much.”
For him to say those things is amazing to me. He hardly ever texts me. I’m always the one texting him and Jose and encouraging them. But that’s the way we see baseball — as a family. We pick each other up. 
I’ll be fine and he’ll be fine. I know that. But it was so great to see those words from my brother.

ESPNs cheap shot

 When I was growing up, respect was the most important thing to my father. That’s what he talked about every day to me, Jose and Yadier. You play the game with respect, yes — but it’s not only about the game. You respect your parents and your teachers and your fellow human beings. 
That’s why ESPN’s sarcastic depiction of me running in slow motion down third base and getting thrown out at home in the Marlins’ game was hard to take. I appreciated Henry Schulman’s blog entry about it.
Until recently, I had thought of ESPN as a network run by professionals who know sports. I thought the people at ESPN, because they focus only on sports, actually understood the game and what pro athletes do to reach the highest level of their sport.
In that Marlins game, which we won, Nate Schierholtz went three-for-three with his first home run of the season. Matt Cain pitched six innings of no-hit ball. And the one highlight ESPN shows of that game is me getting thrown out at home? And they’re doing it just for laughs?
Look, you can say I’m the slowest guy in baseball or in  all of sports or in the entire world. I don’t take issue with that because I AM the slowest guy. I have always been the slowest guy. I can’t challenge that criticism. But ESPN’s intention was not to criticize but to humiliate.
I take what I do very seriously, which is why – despite my obvious lack of speed – I have managed to play in the major leagues for 11 seasons. I play hard. I play hurt. I respect the game, my teammates, the press, the fans. That’s how I was raised. It was the No. 1 thing. 
I know I’m a public figure and I just have to take my lumps. But I would like those people at ESPN who, from a safe distance, make fun of players for a cheap laugh, to remember that players are actual people. With wives and mothers and fathers and children and brothers and sisters. My mother saw the clip. She doesn’t speak English so she asked Yadier’s wife what the announcer was saying. Yadier’s wife didn’t want to tell her. My mom was pretty upset. She didn’t understand why they were making fun of my running when there are so many other things I do every day to help the team win. I told her I didn’t understand it, either.
All I can do is play the way I always have – with respect and professionalism. It’s shame that ESPN, a once great network, won’t have any idea what I’m talking about. 

Appreciating It All

Great to have an off day today before starting a road trip against the Marlins tomorrow. I didn’t fly on the team plane last night because I wanted to go with Jamie to the pediatrician this morning for Jayda’s vaccination shot. Even though you know the shot is for something good, it’s hard to watch your baby in pain for any reason. So I wanted to be there for Jamie. 
The three of us flew out this morning to Florida to meet up with the team. I like Jamie and Jayda to be with me as much as they can, so they go on a lot of the road trips. We go from Florida to New York, where I have a lot of relatives. It will be great to introduce them to Jayda.
I was looking at my numbers the other day. Last year at around this time I was batting .304 and hadn’t had a walk. Right now I’m batting .343 overall (second highest among all NL catchers) and .439 at home (second highest among all NL players). And I already have six walks.
So what’s different? 
I’m way more relaxed this season. I’m not putting so much pressure on myself. This is probably my last year in baseball. I am not expecting any clubs to sign me in the off-season – if only the Mets and Giants were interested last year, when I was coming off five straight good years, I can’t expect I’ll have any interest after this season, no matter how well I do.
So that takes the pressure off to produce big numbers because, as I have found out, numbers don’t seem to make a difference in the marketplace. The Giants signed other guys to beef up the offense, which means the responsibility isn’t squarely on my shoulders anymore. Therefore I’m not pressing as much. 
This has translated into being more patient at the plate. I’m swinging at first pitches only 11.8% of time this season, compared to 39.4% in 2009 and 31.1% over my career. 
It’s funny because I thought I’d feel more pressure in thinking that this is probably my last year. But I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in baseball, except be an All-Star. So I’m appreciating everything around me and having more fun. I’m just thinking about today and the guys who are around me in the clubhouse today. I am enjoying, as I always have, teaching the young guys about the game. I’m enjoying getting the most out of each pitcher’s outing. I am enjoying it all – maybe because I don’t have anything left to prove. 
The only thing that matters is winning. And that’s something that happens as a team, all of us contributing everything we can. 
I am so happy that, if this is my last season, I’m spending it in San Francisco with the Giants. I said this before and it becomes clearer to me every day: There is something special about this group this season. I feel it in the same way I felt it in 2002 with the Angels. 
Thanks for reading and thanks for being there for me and the Giants through all the ups and downs.

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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Stocking Up

Spring training is a time not just to get yourself ready for the season but also to get your arsenal ready. That means choosing and stocking the equipment you’ll need for the season.
During our weeks here, manufacturers of gloves and bats set up tables and show us their latest models and take our orders. It’s fun to see what might be new and different, but usually we stick with what has worked for us in the past. 
Let’s talk about bats. How does a player choose a bat?
Part of the answer is the same as it was in Little League: How it feels in your hands. If you have big hands, you want a thicker handle. If you have smaller hands, like I do, you want a narrower handle. Then it’s about weight and length.
I have a bat from Pablo in my locker right now. It has a nice narrow handle, which feels good in my hands. But it’s too long for me – 35 inches. I have a long, sweeping swing, so I need a shorter bat to get around quickly enough on the pitch. Pablo has a short, compact swing, so he can get away with a longer bat. 
(The reason I have Pablo’s bat in my locker is that I’m keeping it as memorabilia. That kid is going to be a superstar. So I want him to sign it and I’ll keep it at home. See? We’re not much different from you when it comes to collecting . . .)
Over the years, I have narrowed my arsenal of bats to three models: Two are from Louisville Slugger – the I13 and the T141, and one is from Sam Bat, the AS12. These are the three that are always in my locker. The I13 is my favorite. It feels the most balanced and streamlined to me.
My bats are 33.5 inches long and 34 ounces, though I also order some 32-ounce bats, too.  Sometimes if I wake up and I’m kind of tight or tired, or if the pitcher is throwing 100 mph, I might want a lighter bat.
All of my bats are maple, which is a bit harder than ash. The ball goes farther, or at least it feels that way. It doesn’t mean the maple gets you a better hit, but when you hit it, you really feel like you hit it. 
I know some people think the maple bats are more dangerous because there’s a perception that they break more often. But I think the ash breaks more. That’s been my own experience anyway 
More soon.

Spring. Finally.

I know I’m two weeks late in posting my first spring entry. I’m trying something new. I’ll still write, but I’ll also be posting video with the blog. The reason this is late is that I’m still figuring out, with my collaborator, Joan Ryan, how to transfer the video from a digital Panasonic to the IBook computer, convert the video to the right format, edit it on I Movie and send it to the Giants’ website folks. 
So when you watch this video, keep in mind it was shot last Tuesday, on the day position players reported. At that time, I hadn’t really met some of the new guys, like Aubrey Huff or Mark DeRosa. 
It’s been great seeing my teammates from last year, especially the young guys like Pablo Sandoval. They bring so much energy to the clubhouse and they make you remember what it was like in the early days, when everything – from the custom uniforms to a real-life cook in the dining room making eggs for you first thing in the morning – seemed like you had died and gone to heaven. I still feel that way most days, but it’s good to be reminded. 
Jamie, Jayda and I are in the same house in Scottsdale that we have rented for the last few years. It’s where Jamie and I had our wedding last February 14. We had just a few people at the outdoor ceremony  – no one from Puerto Rico was able to come – but it was a perfect day. Now, a year later, that house is filled with the babbling and laughter of Jayda, who is truly the happiest baby on earth. Jamie had surgery on her wrist, which then became infected, so we have my cousin, Jennifer, from Brooklyn staying with us until Jamie can lift the baby again. It’s killing Jamie to have to be so careful with her arm, but she’s already had too many setbacks with it to take any more risks with the healing process.
Hope you like the video. Don’t expect too much. We’re still experimenting. But please let me know what you think. And give me your ideas on what you’d like me to talk about on the video. Maybe we can pull some teammates into the next one . . . 
Thanks for reading!

Photos

Yadier, Jayda, Bengie:
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Bengie and Jayda:

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Christmas in Cabo San Lucas:
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Jayda Marie:
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Jose, Jayda, Bengie:
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Im Back

Feels like I never left.
My phone – and even more so, Jamie’s phone — have been buzzing with text messages the last couple days, since word got out I was signing again with the Giants. Jamie has heard from a ton of the wives and girlfriends saying how happy they are that we’ll be back. The families get as close as the players over the course of a few seasons.
One of the first guys I heard from was longtime clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, or Papa Murphy, as I call him.
“I’m so glad you’re coming back,” he told me over the phone yesterday. 
“Papa,” I said, “I was going to miss you too much!”
As I’ve written here before, baseball is a business. So I really didn’t think I would be back with the Giants. It didn’t seem like it was going to work out for the team or for me. The reasons have been well reported. But circumstances changed. And here we are.
It’s going to be fun working with the Giants pitching staff. A catcher’s dream. I know them so well. I have a pretty good understanding of every single pitcher on the staff. I know what they like and don’t like. So here we go. 
And I’m excited about the lineup. I think we’re going to score more runs, and of course that’s what this team needs. As for where I hit, I truly don’t care. I’m ready to hit wherever Boch needs me to hit. 
I have to say this has been a great off-season – and just because I can finally spend time with my new daughter, Jayda. I’m pushing myself hard in workouts, and I feel stronger this year than I have in a while. Last season, I changed equipment companies and it kind of messed up my legs. I’ll stick with one company all season this year. 
We also took some family time in Cabo San Lucas, and visited Jamie’s family in Seattle and went to Puerto Rico to celebrate Yadier’s son’s first birthday. My mother arrives here in Yuma on Jan. 28 for two weeks, so I’m really looking forward to that. We might try to go someplace to see snow. 
OK, so you’re stuck with my blog and me for another season. I can’t wait to get back to San Francisco for FanFest and see everybody. Hope you’ll stop by and say hello. 
Go Giants!
Photos of Jayda:
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