Jean Machi’s arrival this week means there are now six players in the Giants clubhouse from Venezuela – Pablo, Hector Sanchez, Marco Scutaro, Jose Mijares, Machi and me.
By the way, we pronounce Machi like this: Ma-SHEE.
Being so far from home, it’s really nice to have people who know the same food, same traditions, same music. We all know each other from winter ball, so we were really happy to see Machi finally get a chance in a major-league game at the age of 30 after 12 years in pro ball.
“You deserve this,’’ I told him when he came in from Fresno, where he was the closer for the Grizzlies. “You worked for it and nobody can take it away from you now. Enjoy it.’’
Then he went out and threw a perfect inning in his major-league debut. I think everybody in the park was happy for him because he had waited so long and had worked so hard. What they don’t know is that he’s a really nice guy. His personality is a lot like Pablo’s in that he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But he’s quieter than Pablo.
Pablo is kind of the leader of the Venezuelans because he’s such a great player and a great teammate.
Scutaro has become a leader, too, even though he hasn’t been with the team very long. But he’s the oldest of the Venezuelans and has the most experience. Marco tries to help everybody. He knows I’ve been struggling at the plate, so every day he says to me, “You are a great player. We believe in you. Everybody in here believes in you.’’ He tells me to relax, to trust my hands and go with the pitch and hit the ball the other way. That’s what he does. And that’s the kind of player I am when I’m locked in. I’m patient at the plate like he is. I have quality at-bats. So he talks to me a lot about getting back into a good groove.
If someone asked what all Venezuelan players had in common, I’d say two things: We’re team players and we’re passionate about baseball. And one more thing: Pride. Every single Venezuelan I’ve played with takes great pride in how he competes and what he contributes to his team.
We haven’t all gotten together away from the park yet, though we want to. I tried to do it August 13 for my baby boy’s birthday, but Pablo was celebrating his birthday the same day.
OK, I’m heading to the cage to get in some extra batting practice. I hope it doesn’t rain, though the skies look a little dark. After back-to-back extra-inning games, the last thing we need is a rain delay.
Looking forward to the day off tomorrow before the big series against the Dodgers. September baseball, in first place, playing our rival – what’s better than that?