A Path That Led, Finally, to Myself
I’ve been playing baseball all my life. I’m 29 now. But it wasn’t until a day in spring training this year that I finally stopped trying to be someone else. I finally figured out who I was as a player.
In previous years, every time I went 0-for-3 or 0-for-4, I’d change my mechanics. I’d copy Marco Scutaro or Buster Posey or whoever. So no surprise – I’d ride a rollercoaster of trying this and that, and the results were a rollercoaster, too. I was up and down and all over the place.
I arrived at spring training with the goal of figuring out how to be consistent.
It was the first spring training in my life that I could actually pick a component of my game to work on. Every other spring, I was trying to impress the organization so they’d put me on the roster. This spring, I had more security than I’d ever had, so I could afford to focus on becoming a more consistent hitter.
One day in Arizona, I was watching video with our assistant batting coach, Joe Lefebvre. He had put together a bunch of my at-bats from last year.
“Look at your swing,’’ he said. “That’s you right there. Just be yourself and you’ll be more consistent.’’
I said to myself, “That’s right. I’m going to start just being myself.’’
It was like a light bulb switching on.
The reason why Marco and Buster and Pablo are so successful is they always take the same approach. They believe in their approach and don’t change it just because they have a bad day or two.
That’s the biggest difference for me between last year and this year. I’ve found peace in myself and the way I play the game. Which translates into more consistency. I just stay who I am even if I go 0-for-4. I just keep believing in myself and my approach. I just keep swinging aggressively and naturally and with confidence.
My game is to get on base. Every time I get into the batter’s box, I’m just thinking, “Get on base no matter what.’’ That can mean bunting, slapping the ball, getting a walk. Get quality at-bats every single time. That’s what I want to do.
I don’t put nearly as much pressure on myself as I used to. I don’t expect myself to go 4-for-4 every game and then get all stressed when I don’t. I’m much more even.
And so far it’s working well. I feel comfortable at the plate, and I’m getting on base.
Maybe I learned this lesson a little late, but I guess I had to go through everything I did in order to get to where I am. I feel like I’m a better player now than I’ve ever been. And I have the Giants and you to thank for that. I will always feel blessed that I ended up in San Francisco.