Hitting the Reset Button
After I went hitless in the first two games in Milwaukee two weeks ago, Bochy called me in. He told me I was sitting out the third game. He said everyone still believed me, but that a little rest would do me good.
When you made the team like I did – as kind of a long shot out of spring training – you can’t help getting nervous when you’re benched. You want to be the guy the team can count on, the guy whose name is in the lineup every day.
Like Melky and Angel. They’re unbelievable. They just play every single day. Of course, Melky has missed a few days with hamstring trouble. But except for injury, those two guys are out there. That’s what I want to be, too.
So my first reaction was to get really anxious. Was I losing the spot I’d worked so hard to get? I got myself pretty worked up because this opportunity means everything to me. Everything.
My coaches told me to relax, that I was doing a great job and just to keep doing what I was doing. They said I’d be back in the line-up the next day.
I’m sure you hear all the time that baseball is way more about your head than your body. A lot of guys are really talented. But I think controlling your thoughts – the key to maintaining your confidence – is the biggest thing.
So I said to myself, “OK, look at this as a new start. Like a new season. Forget the last few games. Hit the reset button.’’
I also reminded myself, as I do every day, how much I have to be grateful for. The biggest one is my family. “Your family is healthy,’’ I thought. “You’re in the big leagues. Things are good. Just go out there and play hard and do what you know you can do.’’
Melky and Angel always help me. They have been the best teachers. I sit with them during the games, and they tell what they see. They explain the pitcher’s strategy and what to look for when I go to the plate. They’ll point out how a guy tracks down a ball in the outfield or what he did wrong on his throw. They’re really open about what they did well and what they didn’t do well. I listen to everything.
So I’m really developing my mental game, but it’s not just about strategy. It’s about keeping perspective and not allowing doubt to erode my confidence.
After sitting out that game in Milwaukee, I went 2-for-4 (with three runs), 3-for-5 (with two doubles), and 3-for-5 in the next three games in Miami. I did well against Arizona then didn’t get a hit in three games against the Cubs (though I scored twice, and we won all three games).
In four of the last six games, I’ve had at least two hits, including a home run.
And I’ve played every day.
Thanks for your comments from the last blog. One reader, Syd Bird, asked about the first time I played baseball. I’ll write about that next time.