Results tagged ‘ SF Giants ’

A Dream Day for a Fellow Shark

It was so great to arrive home Sunday night. On the off day Monday I just wanted to sleep in and spend the day in bed with my family watching movies. And that’s what I did.

That was a really, really long road trip. Two of the best moments came on the final day, Sunday.

          First, we got to witness the tribute to Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium. I couldn’t believe I was right there to see it up close. I filmed the whole thing on my phone. I grew up watching Mariano Rivera. He has been so inspiring, especially for Latin players. Watching the pregame ceremony, I felt like I was in the middle of history. I didn’t get to meet Mariano, but I could tell he is a really humble man. Before his speech, he thanked God for all he had accomplished. I liked that.

I had never been to Yankee Stadium, so that was fun in itself. Everybody was telling me I should go see this or that at the field. But to tell you the truth I didn’t go see any of it. I was there to play baseball, not to be a tourist. I didn’t want to get all caught up in seeing everything and then not be ready for the game. So I’ll have to go back another time.

          The second great moment was Adrianza hitting that home run to break up Andy Pettitte’s no-hitter. I couldn’t believe it. Everybody was really excited for him, but especially me because I’ve known him since he was 14 or 15 years old. That’s when the Tiburones – the winter-ball team in Venezuela I play for – brought Adrianza to the field for a workout. They said, “This guy is really young, but he’s going to be a Major Leaguer.’’ I thought, “OK, I want to watch him.’’ He was amazing in the field. So I thought, “OK, let’s watch him hit.’’ He was terrible! Yes, he was using a wood bat instead of aluminum, which he was used to. But he was so bad he looked like he was using a bat made of paper. He couldn’t hit it out of the infield.

At 16 he signed with the Tiburones then signed with the Giants shortly afterward. So I’ve been watching him and working with him ever since. We’ve spent a lot of time together during winter ball. I said this before but he reminds me a lot of myself. He has a great work ethic and really, really loves the game. All he’s focused on is being a Major Leaguer and taking care of his family.

If ever there was evidence of how far his hitting has come it was that home run in New York. I know him so well, so I could tell that when he got back to the dugout he didn’t even understand what had just happened. A home run in Yankee Stadium against an almost-perfect Andy Pettitte! He didn’t comprehend it. The next day, I think he kind of said to himself, “Did I do that? I think I did that.’’

          There will definitely be more great moments that like for him.

          Thank you so much for filling the seats last night against the Dodgers. I am so grateful to be playing here in San Francisco. No other fans are like you. You give us energy in this last week when it seems there’s nothing to play for. But everyone in this clubhouse feels there is a lot to play for: You. And next year.

Turning Things Around

blanco_photoMatt Cain came through the clubhouse today handing out T-shirts to everybody. The shirt has a photo of a blubbery shirtless guy in red-white-and-blue boxing trunks. I thought at first it was just some random fat guy. Somebody just told me it’s the body of Butterbean, the fighter, with the face of Carl Kochan, our conditioning coach. It’s pretty funny. Cainer must have had them made this morning. I think it’s a reminder that we have to loosen up and have fun and stay united. We’re a team that has always had a good time together and we have to keep doing that.

In baseball, you go through streaks when the luck is with you or the luck is against you. Last year in the postseason everything broke our way. For the last couple weeks, nothing is. Everything seems hard right now. It’s weird. It’s really weird. I’ve never been on a team when so many guys are going bad at the same time.

We’ve also run into some good pitching. In the Cincinnati series, I saw only one or two pitches the whole series that I felt I should have done something with and didn’t. Give the other teams credit. They’re pitching well and playing good defense.

We all know we’re still in the race, and there’s still half of the season left to play. I don’t think we’ve been really down actually as far as our attitude. The good thing about this team is we stay together. We arrive at the park with same attitude. We’re still pounding each other’s backs and taking care of each other like brothers. We tell each other we’re going to get through this, that we’re winners and we’re going to be OK.

Personally I don’t keep track of my numbers. My family from home will call and say, “You’re oh-for-whatever.’’ I don’t care. Don’t tell me that. Just talk to me about winning. That’s all that matters. Did we win?

I know better now than to over-react and start changing things when I go through a bad streak. You have to stay with what’s been successful for you most of the season. I’ve said this before, but I’ve learned a lot from watching Marco and Buster. They know what they can do. They don’t panic. They really believe in themselves and know that things will turn around. I’ve been having good at-bats and hitting the ball hard. The balls will start dropping.

In the meantime, it is so great to be home. I love having my son at the park before the games. He came on the field with me before batting practice. He likes to throw the ball – and he lifts his front leg already like he’s seen all our pitchers do.

We’re ready for the Dodgers. This the game that will start turning things around. We believe that every single game.

Pablo’s Hogging all the Hits

A reporter after the game asked me what the big headline would be in the Venezuelan newspapers tomorrow.

“I think the big headline will be about my two catches.’’

That made him laugh. Obviously it’s going to be about Pablo. None of us could believe what Pablo did tonight. Even Pablo couldn’t believe it. In the dugout after the third consecutive home run, he said, “I feel like I’m dreaming right now.’’

He had three major factors against him tonight: Verlander, AT&T Park and the World Series. It’s tough to hit a home run facing any one of those, and he conquered all three. Three times!

I can’t even hit a single and he hits three home runs and a line drive.

I remember watching the Pepsi Home Run Derby on TV two years ago. It’s a big competition in Venezuela, and Pablo won it that year. He just blasted one home run after another. Nobody had seen anything like it. He put on a show for the whole country. Tonight he put on a show for the whole world.

He was already a big star at home. When he got off the airplane after the 2010 World Series, when he didn’t even play very much, there were so many reporters he could barely move. Now it’s going to be unbelievable. People will be mobbing him everywhere he goes. Maybe he won’t go back!

As for me, I hope I hit better tomorrow. But if I don’t, I always know I’ll contribute with defense. I cover a lot of ground in the outfield. I love that. It’s really fun to run down a ball and making a diving catch and hear the crowd explode. I can’t begin to describe what that feels like.

Part of the reason I get to so many fly balls is that I get a great jump. I have it in my mind what’s going to happen when the hitter makes contact. I can see the catcher’s sign so I know what pitch is coming. I know the hitter either from facing him before or watching video. Is he a pull hitter? A line drive hitter? A slap hitter?

Sometimes I’m moving before the pitcher even throws the ball

Am I wrong sometimes? Yes, but not often.

Today before the game, my dad and brother were filling me with advice on how to face Verlander. “He’s going to challenge you with his fastball,’’ my brother said. “Try to bunt!’’  I tell them, “Don’t tell me too much! Just let me play!’’

Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of the day my mother died from brain cancer. She also had breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the years leading up to her death. So I was really touched that I could hold up her name on the Stand Up To Cancer sign. I wrote, “MaMa, this is for you.’’ I believe she saw it and was really proud. Tomorrow I’ll light a candle in memory of her.

No Doubts. No Regrets.

All we’re thinking about right now – and what we’ve been thinking about since the end of the season – is playing game by game. It sounds so simple. But that’s what it takes. You can’t think about tomorrow’s game. Or that you need three wins in a row to move on to the next round.

​Just one game.

​This team always believes it can win one game.

​There was no doubt in our minds we would win tonight. You could see the confidence in every face right from the start. Everyone’s relaxed. There wasn’t even a speech before the game because we’re already on the same page. We’re playing hard for each other and we’re having fun

​Even when I struck out today in a big situation, I didn’t worry about it. I knew someone would step up. I didn’t know it would be Vogey, but there you go. That’s our team. He makes the Cardinals pay for walking Crawford intentionally. He smacks a grounder that the shortstop misplays, and suddenly we have our second run in and we’re teed up for Marco to drive both runners in with a double to left.

​That’s how it works with us.

​We’re 27 outs away from being in the World Series. Just saying that out loud is amazing. I know I say this a lot but that’s because I think about it every day – I’m so thankful to the Giants for giving me a chance. I feel so blessed to be here right now. It’s been the best experience of my life.

​And it’s not over. We have no doubts going into Game 7. None. We know that we can control only one thing: How hard we play for each other. When we do that, we can have no regrets.

​Go Giants!