Results tagged ‘ Gregor Blanco ’
I know we lost today, and we’ve been on a bad run, but when you have Hunter Pence back in the lineup, you know things are going to be OK. He brings good energy to our lineup, the club, the fans and the whole ballpark. He made a big difference yesterday with that hit and that amazing play in right field. I was clapping from left field because it was so unbelievable. It was crazy. The catch was good enough, and then he turned and made a perfect throw to home plate on the fly. That was unbelievable, especially because he hadn’t thrown in so long. That showed his natural ability.
He helped us today again to battle back in the ninth inning even though we fell short. I can’t believe he could play at this level without playing a single rehab game. It’s awesome.
Jake did a great job today, too, and I know Matt Cain will be strong on Friday. When Aoki comes off the DL, we’ll be more of an offensive force. We’re really not worried about getting back on track.There are still a lot of games left. We’ll be right there battling the whole rest of the season.
Also, not to make excuses, but the cross-country travel and the crazy times of the games — one day at 11 a.m., the next day 8 p.m. and the day after that a flight in the morning and a game a few hours laters — have an effect on us. It’s just a fact. Your sleep patterns are all over the place. I took Nyquil one night just to get to sleep more quickly. Other nights I’ll have a glass of wine. A little bit, not too much. Then I’m able to relax and fall asleep. We all have to be a little bit smart about it. You can’t exert yourself too much before a game so you can save it for the three or four hours of the game. So we do lighter workouts.
The travel is the toughest part of being a Major League player. It can be hard to stay consistent. You have to give 100 percent of your energy every day, and sometimes you’re not going to have it. Your brain is telling you to do something, and your body is like, “Sorry.’’ But even if you don’t feel 100 percent, you have to go out there and do your best. We haven’t been as sharp lately as we usually are. I think it’s a little bit of fatigue and some key injuries. But I really think we’ll be best team in the division in the second half of the season.
I was lucky in Miami because I got to sleep in my own bed. Sometimes you need to feel that energy you get only from home. You’re living out of a suitcase in a hotel, and it’s just different when you sleep at home. It really helps to get yourself grounded and energized.
Little Gregor was so excited about being home. He was running all around the house and playing with his toys in the garage and swimming in the pool. My twin brother, Gregory, was visiting from Venezuela. He had never been to Miami. He loved it. We hung out and talked a lot and played video games. He hasn’t seen me play very much in the Major Leagues. I played well during the Miami series, and he kept telling me how proud he was of me. He said, “Next year you’re going to play in the All-Star Game!’’ What’s better than having your brother tell you how awesome you are?
It’s family day today for all the players and their families. We get the park to ourselves. Our kids play on the field. We eat some food. And this year we’re getting our photos taken with the three World Series trophies. I’ll try to post photos. We are all so happy to have an off day tomorrow. I think we’ll all just sleep! Stick with us, everyone! It’s going to be get better! Thanks for reading.
OK. Here are two photos. My son Gregor insisted I get my face painted.
Then we played ball. Somehow I could never get Gregor out! He got on base every single time!
Well, when we start hitting, we really start hitting. Season highs for runs (13), hits (19) and extra-base hits (8) today. Chris Heston has been unbelievable on the mound AND at the plate. He’s gotten a hit in five of his last seven starts.
The eighth inning was a little weird, with the Padres scoring 6. That stuff happens sometimes, but we’re not used to it because our bullpen is so good. We just kept a good attitude like we always do. We thought, “OK, we’ve got to put at least one run on the board to give our pitcher a little breathing room,’’ and we scored four. That was huge.
It seems like a lot of guys are swinging the bat well lately, including me. I noticed on the scoreboard that my two hits today pushed me to .301, which makes me feel pretty good. The three RBIs today made me even happier. There’s no better feeling in baseball than helping your team win.
I’m grateful that I have no lingering symptoms from the concussion. That was definitely a weird experience. I felt dizzy when it first happened and had to really focus on catching the ball in the outfield. I was like, “OK something’s wrong.’’ But I didn’t want to panic, and I didn’t want my teammates to panic, especially Belt, who threw the ball that hit me. I didn’t want him to think about it. We had a day off the next day and had a hard time falling asleep and started to have headaches. At the ballpark the next day, I didn’t feel right. I talked to Belt, and said, “Hey, man, what do you feel when you have this?’’ He told me the symptoms, and I said, “Well, I feel the same thing.’’
So I slept a lot. I rested in a dark room by myself. That helped me heal pretty quickly. I still felt symptoms when I got back in the lineup. I had headaches, and I was told headaches were the last symptoms to go away. I could either play through the headaches, or rest until they’re gone. Either way, the headaches were going to go away. So I made the decision, “OK, let’s play.’’
Answers to your questions:
What do you do in order to adjust to a pitcher? Are there hitting exercises you do, do you practice against a LHP (like Bonds used to do) in between games, any tools (like batting machine, or one of the fancier batting practice tools, like there’s one on a stick that swing around as you hit it, or another that has a ball on a rope that you can hit over and over as it hangs in front of you, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/SwingAway-Bryce-Harper-Hitting-Machine/dp/B007MOJT7C/ ) that you use, books you read (Ted Williams Science of Hitting?), or one of the Giants video training machines?
I don’t read hitting books or looking at hitting videos. Instead, I look at videos of our opposing pitcher — what kind of pitches, where he throws, when he throws them. I’m especially interested in what he does against lefthanders like me. Then I can think about my approach. We have a really nice pitching machine in the cage behind the dugout. It can throw almost anything you want from off-speed to a 95-mph fastball. If we’re facing a pitcher who favors a certain pitch, I’ll take some of those pitches before the game. But I don’t change my approach radically no matter who’s pitching. Mostly what I work on every day in the cage is using my hands, making my hands believe that they can hit the pitch without putting so much effort into the whole body. I keep that feel in my hands during the game. I don’t care who’s pitching. All I care about is always trusting my hands. Of course, I’ll adjust to a pitcher by waiting longer on off-speed pitches or taking fastballs earlier. But at the same time it’s all about just trusting my hands.
I understand why Mirna is superstitions about attending the games, but what about the boys? Can they come and watch the games?
The boys definitely come. Granger is in Venezuela until after the All-Star break, but he’ll come to every home game when he gets here. Gregor is with Mirna and me and comes to every game. He moves around the park and sits all over the place. I can see him sometimes in the left-field area, in the right field area. He could be anywhere. He yells out to me, “Papi, I’m right here!’’ We have a great babysitter who has been with us a long time, and she’s with him at the games. Gregor comes into the clubhouse a lot after games. Today was kind of like “Take Your Son to Work Day.’’ Romo and McGehee had a son in the clubhouse and Maxwell had two sons in there. Gregor was having a great time with all of them.
Do the Giants own their own plane or do they charter a private plane? How many people travel with you besides the players? Do you stay in hotels or does the home team provide housing for you? Do you and your teammates eat your meals together prepared by a Giants chef while you are away or are you on your own for meals?
The Giants got their own plane this season. Before that, I think it was all charters. Now all the seats are first-class seats. It’s a pretty nice way to travel. On the plane with us are the coaches, of course, plus the trainers and medical people, clubbies, broadcasters, media-relations guys, front-office people like the general manager and owners, plus other staff people.
We have a few trips a year when we can bring our wives, and the upcoming Miami and Washington DC trip is one of them. So Mirna and I will go on the team plane and Gregor will go with our babysitter on a commercial flight. The team always stays in great hotels on the road but we live just 10 minutes from the Marlins’ ballpark so we’ll stay at home. I can’t wait to sleep in my bed! We fly on Sunday after the game so we have a full day off in Miami. We’re going right to the beach. I love the beach. That night, I’m going to see if some of my teammates want to come over for dinner. I don’t know what their plans are. But it would be nice if they can see my house and we can hang out together and have a different kind of day than we usually do when we’re at a hotel.
As for the other part of the question about food: When we’re at the park the team chef cooks great meals for us. But when we’re not at the park, everyone eats on their own.
OK, I’m heading out to spend the evening with my family. It’s always nice to have a night to ourselves when we’re here in San Francisco. I’m not sure what we’re going to do, but being with Mirna and Gregor is all I need.
Thanks for checking in with me!
On our off day in San Francisco last Monday, Mirna and I went to our OB-GYN doctor at UCSF to see how the baby’s doing and find out if we’re having a boy or girl.
We’ve both been really praying for a girl, though we didn’t have our hopes up. Girls are rare in both our families. I have all brothers. They have all sons. I have two sons. My wife had just brothers, and the one brother who has a child — you guessed it — has a son.
We wanted a little girl. So we’re at the hospital and the doctor says, very casually, “Oh, it’s a little girl.’’
I was speechless. Mirna started crying. We were so happy and shocked. I had to tell myself, “Wow, I’m going to have a little girl.’’ Since then all I’ve thought about, “How am I going to treat her? What am I going to do when she’s fifteen years old and she has a boy over?’’
I think I’ll be there with a bat in my hand!
We left the hospital and went straight to the mall. We had an idea. We bought all-white clothes — pants and shirts for Gregor and me, and a dress for Mirna. She called a professional photographer, who brought pink balloons and little pink cupcakes. She took these wonderful photos of us. We posted them on Instagram with the announcement that we’re having a girl: “Thank God for this amazing gift to have l little girl in my family!’’
That’s how we surprised our family and friends.
Our little girl will be named Greta or Grecia, which is pronounced Gray-cia.
Little Gregor, who is four, is very excited. He gives kisses to his mama’s belly. My older son, Granger, had made it clear he wanted another brother.
“Well, that’s not going to happen,’’ I told him. “You’re the oldest one, and you need to take care of both.’’
“OK, I will,’’ he said. He’s actually really excited.
Thanks for sending in questions! It makes it easier to come up with something to write about!
Which pitcher do I like hitting against and which is the toughest? They’re not easy questions because it really depends on the particular day. You can feel great against a pitcher one day and can’t touch him the next. The toughest pitcher can be anyone. The best pitcher can be anyone. Depends on how you feel that day. But recently the toughest pitcher for me has been Aroldis Chapman with the Reds. He’s a lefty, which makes it more difficult to begin with. But he got me completely turned around when we were in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago. I faced him twice and struck out twice.
What do I think of having the DH in the National League? I don’t think we should change the game. The way it is is awesome. To have the pitchers hit, they really enjoy it. They prepare for it. They’re getting better at it, too. It used to be you throw three fastballs and they don’t even swing. Now they not only swing, they put the ball in play. And Bum can hit a home run off Kershaw! Why would we want to lose that? It’s awesome. Also we can bring players off the bench into the game. You maintain all your players, and everyone’s ready to play. When you have a DH, it’s harder to get guys into the game.
Will you wear your new ring to White house? Definitely. I might wear both!
Does Mirna go to the games and watch you? Not very often. She said, “Every time I go to the game, you don’t hit. When I don’t go, you hit homers. So I’m not going to watch you anymore.’’ She watches at home with Gregor. Especially now with being pregnant, she wants to relax and rest.
Do you spoil her with gifts? I always try to surprise her with things she likes, especially when I come back from the road. She likes like chocolates, so I bring her that sometimes. And I buy her flowers.
That’s about it. Looking forward to being back home after the game tomorrow night. We had a rough time in Colorado — a lot of time hanging out in the clubhouse waiting for the rain to stop. It was great to see us explode for a bunch of runs yesterday in Milwaukee. Nothing more fun than that.
See you back at AT&T on Thursday against Atlanta!
March 1, 2015
Breaking news: I’m going to be a dad again. My wife Mirna took three home pregnancy tests and they all came out positive but we weren’t completely convinced until she went to the doctor a week and a half ago and we saw the baby’s beating heart. We’d been hoping for another child for some time.
We told Gregor that he was going to have a little brother or sister. My wife rubbed her tummy and tried explain that the baby was in there. He rubbed his own tummy and said, “Baby!’’
“No not you! Mommy!’’ I said. “You can’t have a baby!’’
I’m really hoping for a girl. I grew up with all brothers, and I remember tellingly mom that I wanted a sister. Then she got pregnant again and I had another brother. And now I have two sons. So I’m ready for a girl.
As you might know, everybody in the family is named some version of Gregory. So how would I turn that into a girl’s name? I don’t think I can. I like Grace, sticking with the “Gr,’’ but my wife doesn’t want that. But we’ll see. She might let me.
I’m here by myself for the first time. Mirna and Gregor stayed back in Miami so Gregor can continue at preschool. They’ll be coming out for a few weekends and school breaks, but most of the time they’ll be home.
I’m staying in a different condo at spring camp this year. I’d been wanting to stay there, and now I finally got it, and it’s too big for me by myself. It’s so different not having my family here. I miss them. And I’m cleaning my clothes by myself, organizing the apartment by myself, making my own food. It’s rough! But it’s going OK. I haven’t ruined any clothes yet and burned only a few meals. Mostly I boil vegetables and cook some chicken in a pan. A little salt and pepper, and that’s it.
Right now it’s late afternoon, we’re long finished with practice and I’m eating here in the dining room adjacent to the clubhouse with a few other stragglers. I’m spending a lot more time at the park and in the clubhouse than I did when my family was here. I’ll eat. I’ll go upstairs to work out. I’ll take my time. A good team, like we have, is like a family. So I hang out here at the park as long as I can. To be honest, I didn’t realize how much I missed my teammates until we got back together here. You can tell how happy everybody is to be back playing again. It seems like we haven’t lost that fight we had through the postseason. We’re still battling to be better. I see it during batting practice. The hitters are focused. The pitchers are focused. It’s awesome. It seems like we’re preparing for good things.
I’m heading upstairs to work out, then go home to play video games. It’s almost always a basketball game or a shooting game. Never, ever baseball. I don’t even watch baseball on TV. Away from the field is my time to clear my head and get ready to focus again tomorrow.
Thanks for reading. If there’s something you want to know about, leave me a message below. Looking forward to hearing from you!
I just got back to the hotel from FanFest and I’m still amazed by how many fans came out to see us even with the rain and everything! I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see soooo many people wearing Giants shirts and hats — and so happy!
Sometimes it still seems like the World Series was a dream. I was invited to speak Thursday at an event for team sponsors, and in the introduction they played a clip of my lead-off homer in Game 2. I watched it and thought, “Wow, I really did that.’’ I kind of need the evidence to remind myself it was all real.
Everywhere I went in the off-season people asked, “How are you guys so good?’’ I’d say, “I don’t know. We just play baseball. We try to just win that game on that day no matter what.’’
People always ask about Madison, too. They say, “That guy’s unbelievable! That’s the best pitcher in the world. How does he do that? How big is he?’’ I tell them he’s huge. I say he’s like a big bear. And I tell them he’s quiet and humble. And he’s just a boy still, only 25.
They want to see the new ring, as if we get it like a Little League trophy at the end of the series. Even if I had it, I wouldn’t wear it. I have hardly ever worn my ring from 2012. I don’t want to lose it or risk getting it stolen.
Of course, some people ask what happened on the play in the ninth inning of the seventh game. Sometimes I joke that I just wanted to make the game more interesting and exciting. The truth is when you’re about to make the final out of the World Series you do stuff you might not do in the regular season. The adrenaline is pumping. Before the pitch was thrown, I was telling myself, “You catch this ball no matter where it is.’’ So I went for it when I should have stayed back and just let it fall for a single. I got caught in no man’s land and the ball got by me.
And, no, I have not watched a replay of it. I will never watch a replay of it. I really care so much about my defense, and I don’t want to have an image of that play in my head. I want to just feed my brain all the positive plays.
I think the most memorable moment of the postseason was Crawford’s grand slam against Pittsburgh. That game was win or go home. Once he hit that homer, we could feel a little relief. We knew if we could just get into the playoffs, we could do some damage. And we did.
For myself, the thing I will tell my grandchildren is that I was able to be the lead-off hitter in the World Series for the San Francisco Giants. That’s a dream to be able to do that. And to win? That’s still unbelievable to me.
I spent a lot of the off-season buying furniture for our new house in Miami. My wife and I had a good time going all over the place looking at couches and tables and everything. I watched my little boy play T-ball. You’re supposed to be five years old and he’s only four, but he’s so good they let him play. I know I’m his dad, but to be honest he’s too good for T-ball. He’s good at pitching and hitting already. He really, really loves it.
We also went back to Venezuela for 20 days in December to see our families and to get our visas renewed. We built a new house down there, too. We had always lived with Mirna’s mother, so we didn’t have furniture of our own. So we have to furnish that whole place, too. But we’ll buy it all in Miami and ship it over because it’s too expensive in Venezuela. The house is in our hometown of Cúa, which is 20 miles outside Caracas along the Tuy River. A lot of people tell me I should get a big fancy apartment in Caracas, but Mirna and I like it in Cúa. This is where I grew up, and I don’t want to leave my hometown.My father and brothers are there, and my older son Grenyer. Mirna’s family is there. I will always have a home there.
I fly back to Miami tonight around 8 and get in sometime tomorrow morning. Not sure if I’ll make it to my workout, at least not in the morning. Asdrubal Cabrera, the second baseman for the Rays, and I workout with the same personal trainer. I’m feeling great and ready for spring training. I’ll fly to Arizona around the 15th or 16th.
So great to see so many of you today. We can’t wait to get back on the field and start working toward another ring!
I could see it from the first game after the All-Star Break. Everything started to change. Our bats came alive. And the baseball gods started smiling again. Bloopers fell. Grounders found holes. Before the break that wasn’t happening. We’d hit bloopers right at people. Opposing teams made great plays to stop the grounders. It was weird.
Now it’s like starting over.
That Tuesday game in Philadelphia — the one that went 14 innings and 5 hours and 46 minutes — showed a lot. We were so exhausted, and the Phillies kept bringing in one tough pitcher after another. We’re thinking, “This is never going to end.’’ I dashed up to the clubhouse to eat some bread and butter, drink a protein shake. In the dugout we were all eating protein bars and drinking water to try to keep from getting cramps or pulling a hammy.
In the 13th inning, I was tossing the ball in the outfield with Tyler Colvin. He told me he might pitch. Bochy had asked if he could do it. I thought, “OK, wow, this is where we are.’’ He wanted to warm up, and suddenly this outfielder is throwing me some nasty sliders and change-ups. I was like, “You can do this!’’
After we scored in the 14th, he was joking, “Oh, now I might not pitch!’’
It was one of those games where Bochy could have asked anyone to do anything and the answer would have been “yes.’’ I’d have pitched! I’ve only pitched two games in my life, when I was a kid, but for sure I’d go in if Bochy asked. We all really appreciate playing for the Giants. We’ll do whatever it takes to win. Look at Lincecum coming in to pitch. That right there shows us how much we want to win. It’s a game in July and Lincecum is coming in to pitch in relief.
But that was a loooooonng game. We’re still tired! After the game we all just said, “Good thing it’s not a day game tomorrow!’’ We got back to the hotel around 2am, and of course you’re still hyper from the game. You know it’s going to be hard to go to sleep. I closed the curtains tight so it would stay really dark when the sun came up, and finally went to sleep.
The next night we thought the game might go into extra innings again, but luckily — after Bumgarner pitched so well — Hunter came through. It was that kind of trip.
During the All-Star break, we really enjoyed the new house in Miami. Neighbors came by to welcome us. One family is from the Dominican. Another is from Panama. The contractor came by to make sure everything was OK. We had friends over to have champagne and a barbecue to christen the new house. We went to the beach one day.
My nine-year-old son, Granger, came in from Venezuela with my dad. He had never really seen me play in the Major Leagues because we weren’t able to get him a visa until last December.
Now Granger is here in San Francisco with us, too. He was dying to come to San Francisco, so he’s here with us now for about a month. Then he has to go back to school. I can’t wait to show him around. He’s coming to the game tonight!
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and for coming out to support us!
Just a quick post because I’m with my family and want to enjoy as much time with them as possible!
My wife and son and I flew to Miami after the game on Sunday. We saw our new house for the first time — it’s awesome. I bought it last year while it was still under construction. I just got the keys before I left San Francisco. My dad, my older son and some of my wife’s family joined us here from Venezuela.
There was nothing in the house when we arrived. Nothing. We bought air mattresses so we could sleep. We went to the store yesterday to buy dishes and all that stuff and some furniture. We got a couple of TVs and the cable guy hooked them up. So now we can watch the All-Star Game tonight. I doubt I’ll watch the whole thing. I’ll tune in during the late innings when our guys will get a chance to play. It’s exciting to watch them and cheer for them from home. They deserve it and I’m really proud of my teammates.
Mostly during the break, I want to let my body rest. We all need this break as a team. It’s good to clean our minds and hit reset and start fresh in the second half.
I want to say it’s awesome having Marco back. Everybody from the fans to the clubhouse guys are happy to see him here. And he’s really excited to be back. He said when he got here, it felt like the first day he made it to the big leagues.
In my last blog I wrote about my routine before games when I’m not in the lineup. So someone asked about my routine when I am in the lineup. I don’t do as much. I enjoy my time by myself and my teammates and conserve energy. I arrive around 2 for a 7 o’clock game. I stretch, do come core work, and take it easy. After batting practice, I have my meal — usually just a protein shake. I don’t like to eat much before a game. Then an hour before the game I sit in the hot tub, then take a nice shower and then stretch again. And right before the game, I hit a little bit in the cage and have one more stretch. Then I say to myself, “For the next three hours, play the best you can, give 100 percent and enjoy the game.’’
To answer another question, I follow the same routine at away games.
Someone else asked how I remind myself to stay within myself at the plate and not try to do too much. I don’t do anything special. If I put too much effort into one swing, I take a big breath and say to myself, “Remember who you are. Don’t try to do too much.’’
Thanks for supporting us through our tough stretch. Can’t wait for the second half, but right now it’s pretty nice here in Miami with my family.
Here are some photos from the first half of the season that I don’t think I shared before. Little Gregor really likes the microphone! And he loves Pablo.
July 15, 2014
Wow, I’m so happy for Timmy. He’s such a great guy and a great teammate that you just want to see him get a no-hitter every time he steps on the mound. He’s one of those guys who treats everybody exactly the same, whether you’re a rookie or a superstar veteran. He talks to everybody. He comes to the park every day wanting to have fun and do everything he can to win.
After a no-hitter, you have a little celebration in the clubhouse for the pitcher. We all had our paper cups of champagne and Timmy walked in from the dining room with his medieval helmet on and a USA soccer jersey with his name on the back. The no-hitter pitcher is supposed to say something about the no-hitter and what it means to him. But Timmy is so humble he didn’t want to say anything. So he just thanked us and said how much he appreciated everybody.
Timmy is different from any other pitcher I’ve played with. He’s always loose and always ready to have fun, even on days he pitches. Most pitchers stay to themselves on the day they pitch, and you’re not supposed to talk to them. Timmy’s the opposite. Or rather he’s the same whether he’s pitching or not. Even during the no-hitter, he was chatting and joking in the dugout. Pretty awesome.
From centerfield today I could see he was throwing every pitch pretty much exactly where he wanted to throw it. On 3-2 counts, he threw the change-up without hesitation. He located his fastball on 2-0 counts. Nobody did any damage against him. It was great to watch. As a fielder, I wasn’t nervous about the ball coming to me. Actually I wanted every ball to come to me. I like to back up my pitchers.
Timmy’s hitting was unbelievable, too — two hits! As Bochy said, it was The Timmy Show today. I’ve told him several times that he has an outstanding swing. He really does. After his two hits, he worked the count for a walk! What he did today was really amazing.
I was really happy for Hector, too. A no-hitter is huge for any catcher but especially for a back-up. In the minor-leagues, Hector struggled with his defense. He worked on it, and now he’s a different guy. He has the confidence of his pitchers. He knows how to call a great game. I’m really proud of him and so happy this happened to him.
I’m writing this quickly because we have Family Day at the park this afternoon. Once a year, the players’ and coaches’ families come to the park to play on the field and get family photos taken and eat an early dinner together. There’s face-painting and wiffle ball and probably hula-hoops. My little son is tugging at me right now to get out there! He won’t remember that Timmy threw a no-hitter today, but he might remember swinging a plastic bat and running the bases at AT&T Park with all the other kids. That’s a cool memory, too.
The best thing for me about yesterday’s game against the Mets: We won, and I was one of the guys who got some high-fives in the dugout. Getting a hit or making a big play or driving guys in — it’s a big deal when you’re not an everyday player. It’s an even bigger deal on a team like we have. You could play your whole career and never be on a team like this. It’s not just about the winning. It’s the attitude.
Every day we have the attitude that we’re going to win, and we believe it could be anybody on the roster who makes that difference that day. And everybody has the same mentality. Everybody. I’m talking about everybody. Somebody’s going to step up and get the job done. Saturday it was Morse. Friday it was Posey. Yesterday when I came through with three RBIs, I can’t tell you how great that felt.
One of the things about this team is that nobody jumps on you for messing up, not even the coaches. If you screw up — like getting thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple! Too much coffee in the morning! — the coaches don’t get on you. Or if you don’t get a guy in from third with less than two outs. The coaches prepare us and let us play. They know we’re going all out.
I had such a slow start to the season. I was hitting something like .100 in the middle of May. Now I’ve gone .400 in my last 20 games. I can just say hard work pays off. I knew sooner or later things were going to go well for me. I wasn’t frustrated because at some point I was going to start playing the way I know I can play. I just kept preparing myself for every situation because I want to be here for a long time. I don’t know if that will happen or not, but I feel really good here. I want to be the guy who can come off the bench, or play a few games or play a regular position.
In batting practice, I really focus on hitting only low line drives and ground balls. I’m getting better every time. In my last BP, I hit only one fly ball. That’s going to help me. It shows in the game.
I’m not sure yet if I’m in the lineup today. It doesn’t matter. I’m ready for whatever Bochy needs. And I’m thinking of switching to decaf.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but in baseball the same issues come up over and over. There are certain things for every player that are like skin rashes that keep coming back. You think you’ve dealt with it and there it is again.
My skin rash is about trying to be something I’m not. You can get a little crazy when you’re not going well. You go up there trying to drive in five runs in one at-bat. On the recent road trip, I was watching the opposing team’s lead-off batter. I can’t remember now who it was. I thought, “That’s the type of player I am. Putting the ball on the ground, getting on base, walking, bunting, stealing bases.’’
I had a sit-down with myself, and I’ve been playing better ever since. My numbers are creeping up. On Sunday when Angel took a day off, I went 3 for 4 in his spot. And most importantly, we won. I really needed a game like that. Not just for me, but I want Angel to feel he can take a day off and not think he’s leaving a big hole in the lineup.
I love the game within the game of stealing bases. When I’m in the dugout, I watch the pitcher to pick up on patterns or tells. I watch the way he throws off-speed pitches because that’s what you’re looking for. When you’re on base, you’re trying to think along with the pitcher and catcher. On what pitch-counts would he be throwing off-speed? Which batters?
When I get caught stealing, like I did on Sunday, I always look at why. Usually it’s pretty obvious. On that one, I just got a bad jump. You’re supposed to take off as soon as the pitcher lifts his foot to throw. I started when he was already up. Just that split second of hesitation can make all the difference. And the catcher’s throw was perfect. That didn’t help.
I remember when I first started in pro baseball, I didn’t know the tricks that first basemen try to play on you. They’ll talk to you and try to distract you. They’ll say, “Time out! Time out!’’ even though there’s no time out. Or they’ll ask you about dinner the night before or where you’re from. You just think they’re being friendly. In Single A, I was on first base and the first baseman is talking and talking and suddenly the pitcher throws over and gets me. I was pretty embarrassed. I told my manager, “That will never happen again.’’
Now when I get on base, I ask the first baseman how he’s doing — I like to be polite. Then I ignore him.