My Family of Gregs
Since I’m new not only to blogging but to the Giants, I’ll start off with a little background.
I grew up in Venezuela. I have a twin brother (not identical) whose name is Gregory. And I have a younger brother whose name is Gregsman. So Gregor, Gregory and Gregsman. Why? I still don’t know. My mom said she just liked the names. She even named our house “The Gregs’’ and put up a sign.
My twin brother and I have carried on the tradition more or less. My six-year-old son is named Grenyer, and my 18-month-old son is named Gregor Alejandro. Gregory’s son is named Greyver.
Growing up, my twin and I were always together playing baseball. Nobody ever seemed to call us by our names. It was, “Hey, Twins, what’s up?’’
Gregory played in the Angels and Pirates minor leagues as a catcher but left after a few years to become a phys ed teacher. Gregsman works as a jobs recruiter for the government.
My dad, Hernan, sold insurance for a while and now owns and runs a taxi company. My mother died of brain cancer six years ago when she was 47 years old. I still think about her every day.
I’m married to my childhood sweetheart, Zulay. We’ve known each other since we were 12.
I never wanted to do anything but play baseball. I signed with the Braves at the age of 16 and made my major-league debut eight years later, in 2008. I stayed in the majors most of that season and parts of the next two.
I was traded to Kansas City in the summer of 2010. Between the Braves and the Royals that year, I hit. 283 — my best season ever.
Then it all fell apart. I didn’t spend a single day in the major leagues in 2011. Kansas City started me in Triple A then traded me to the Washington Nationals, who also put me in Triple A. I developed bone spurs in my wrist halfway through the season and had to stop playing. It was the worst year of my career.
The Nationals released me in November.
I didn’t know what would happen. The Giants soon contacted me – one of their scouts had seen me in Triple A before my bone spurs and had sent a good report back to the Giants’ front office. The Marlins were also interested.
By this time I was already home in Venezuela, playing for my usual winter-ball team, Tiburones de la Guaira. (Tiburones means sharks, so that’s where my nickname “White Shark’’ comes from.) Giants batting coach Hensley Meulens was coaching in the same league. Between him and Pablo Sandoval, they convinced me I should sign with the Giants.
What I really appreciated at spring training was the open competition. If I performed, I’d make the team. And I did.
I know we’re struggling now, but this is a team that fights to win every day. That’s what I really like about being here.
It’s tough without Pablo in the lineup, I’ll be honest. He’s so important. I’ve known him a long time. He’s a few years younger than me, so I watched him come up through the ranks in Venezuela. There’s no one else like him. At least he’s still in the clubhouse and in the dugout to keep us loose and laughing.
I usually hang out on the road with him and Hector Sanchez, another countryman. But yesterday, on our day off in Arizona, they went to Glendale to get tattoos, so I was on my own. I went shopping for a Mother’s Day gift for my wife, watched “The Avengers’’ then played some video games.
Let me know what you want to read in this blog. I really want to hear from you.