Results tagged ‘ Will Clark ’
Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
LOS ANGELES — You can call it creative visualization or positive reinforcement. Hunter Pence called it a “dig-me session.”
Regardless of the term, Pence’s method of studying videos of successful at-bats — particularly those that resulted in home runs — likely helped him and Brandon Belt deliver their titanic performances Saturday in the Giants’ 19-3 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pence said that he reviewed footage of himself hitting home runs before he crushed his 476-foot drive at Colorado on Aug. 27. Before that date, he had homered exactly once since July 14. Obviously, Pence was unhappy about the drought. So he reminded himself, visually, how he looked as a power hitter. The power of the mind apparently unleashed the power of the body.
Since then, Pence has hit at a torrid pace. His September numbers include a .407 batting average (22-for-54), four doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs in 14 games. Saturday, he went 3-for-5 with a career-high seven RBIs.
Noticing that Brandon Belt had gone nearly a month without homering (his last one came on Aug. 15 at Washington), Pence urged his teammate to try the treatment that worked for him. Result: Belt collected five hits and six RBIs against the Dodgers on Saturday, both career highs. Among his hits was his 16th homer, aa two-run poke in the seventh inning.
Said Belt, “I think Hunter always likes to challenge people, make sure they have a positive mindset.”
That’s exactly how Pence saw it. “I just challenged him to keep pushing,” said Pence, who recalled telling Belt, “I want you to have a ‘dig-me’ session.”
As Pence explained, “Sometimes it makes you feel good to see what you’ve done and what you’re capable of.”
The greatest Giant of them all would agree.
“I would go home at night and create what I was going to do the next day,” Willie Mays said in an interview with MLB.com several years ago. “It sounds kind of childish. But if I feel that we’re going to have a good crowd or something, and I want to do something the next day to make sure the crowd enjoyed what I did, well, then I’d look at a couple of films by myself and figure out something that I can do to make them holler. And I would do it.”
It’s staggering, really, that these Giants scored the highest number of runs in a single game at Dodger Stadium.
Consider all the impressive ballclubs and lineups that have performed at Chavez Ravine since the ballpark opened in 1962. The Cubs of Ernie Banks-Billy Williams-Ron Santo. The Big Red Machine. The Giants of Mays-Willie McCovey-Orlando Cepeda, or of Will Clark-Kevin Mitchell-Matt Williams. Any Braves lineup with Hank Aaron in it. Heck, even those Davey Lopes-Steve Garvey-Ron-Cey-Dusty Baker Dodgers clubs. And that’s mentioning just a few.
Pence admitted that a little luck was involved. “We hit a lot of bloops, a lot of jam shots that just fell in,” he said.
Some leftover facts and figures from the Giants’ historic night:
– The Giants’ run total was their highest against Los Angeles since a 19-8 win on April 16, 1962 at Candlestick Park.
– The Dodgers hadn’t allowed this many runs since losing to the Cubs, 20-1, on May 5, 2001 at Wrigley Field.
– This was the Dodgers’ worst home loss since falling 19-2 to the Giants on July 3, 1947 at Ebbets Field.
– Chris Haft
Tuesday, April 30
PHOENIX — Though the Giants’ 2-1 victory Tuesday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks was merely regular-season game No. 27, it evoked indelible postseason memories.
The exchange between Pablo Sandoval, who hit the game-winning, two-run homer in the ninth, and Hunter Pence, who offered encouragement to the Kung Fu Panda, has been heard before — not verbatim, but the script sounded similar. And those previous dialogues occurred in two of the Giants’ biggest postseason triumphs.
Flashback No. 1: Game 5, 2010 World Series against the Texas Rangers. Edgar Renteria sensed that he has a big hit left in his 34-year-old body, and whispered to a teammate or two that he would hit a homer in a crucial situation. We all know what happened: Renteria hit the three-run homer that accounted for all of San Francisco’s scoring in the game that clinched the long-awaited World Series title for the Giants. “I told you he would do it!” center fielder Andres Torres shrieked after Renteria connected.
Flashback No. 2: Game 5, 1989 National League Championship Series vs. Chicago: Though the Giants owned a 3-1 Series lead, this one almost had the feeling of a Game 7. The Giants did not want to travel back to Wrigley Field for the series’ final two games. Fortunately for the Giants, they had Will Clark. As Cubs closer Mitch Williams warmed up in the eighth inning before trying to protect Chicago’s one-run lead, Kevin Mitchell said to Clark, “We have to get this done.” Clark’s reply: “It’s done.” His two-run single up the middle came next.
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO — Courtesy of my Pittsburgh counterpart, Jenifer Langosch, here are some thoughts from Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has been linked in trade speculation to the Giants.
Asked if he knew whether anything was up between San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Sanchez said Tuesday, “As far as I know, it’s just speculation. Obviously, until something is in stone and it’s there, then it would be otherwise. I don’t know any more than anyone else right now.”
Sanchez acknowledged that it was somewhat strange to be sitting in the dugout across the field from the club he could be joining.
“But rumors are rumors,” he said. “There has been a lot of speculation on guys who haven’t gone anywhere at all. Speculation is speculation, but it is a little different when you are in the place that they’re talking about.”
When the Giants were in Pittsburgh recently, I talked to Sanchez for a Giants Magazine feature I did on Matt Cain. Sanchez was very friendly and extremely cooperative. From a reporter’s perspective, he seems like he’d be an excellent addition.
But if you’re reading this, you don’t care about that garbage. You just want somebody who can help the Giants score runs. Then know this: Sanchez is truly a professional hitter. That’s an overused cliche, but having watched him take batting practice, I believe it’s applicable. In Pittsburgh I saw him fire line drive after line drive the opposite way to right field, then concentrate on hitting the ball up the middle in his next round before concluding by yanking the ball to left field. Too many idiotic hitters waste their BP swings by trying to hit home runs. Not Sanchez. His was the best batting practice I’ve seen since Bill Madlock during his brief Giants tenure, or maybe Will Clark at his peak in the late ’80s-early ’90s.
Barry Zito pitched 5 2/3 effective innings but was not involved in the decision. Zito yielded nine hits and walked two yet surrendered just one run, which the Pirates scored in the first inning on Andrew McCutchen’s double and Delwyn Young’s bloop single.
Zito left the bases loaded in the third inning by retiring Andy LaRoche on a popup. He also bequeathed two baserunners in the sixth to Sergio Romo (3-1), who seems to have regained manager Bruce Bochy’s confidence. Romo ended the threat by striking out McCutchen on three pitches.
But Zito plainly wanted to work out of the jam himself.
“I definitely support the team, but yeah, I didn’t expect to get taken out at that point,” Zito said. He diplomatically added, “I certainly support Boch’s decision as manager. He’s been in the game a long time. It worked out.”
– Chris Haft
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was tempting to derive significance from Emmanuel Burriss’ second consecutive start at second base on Sunday. Previously, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had alternated Burriss and Kevin Frandsen day by day, virtually without fail.
But Bochy declined to say that this meant Burriss, who’s hitting .362, had won the second base tug-of-war with Frandsen, who’s batting .286.
Asked if anything should be read into Burriss’ back-to-back starts, Bochy replied, “Right now, no. I knew with (Pablo) Sandoval down (with a mild left ankle injury) that I was going to split the game at third. Instead of moving Franny from second to third, I was going to give him the back half of the game there.” Frandsen replaced Rich Aurilia, who started his second game of the spring at third base, in the fifth inning.
Still, the Giants’ apparent interest in seeing what Frandsen can do at other positions creates the appearance that Burriss will secure the second base job. If it’s any comfort to Frandsen’s faithful legion of fans, he’d still have a good chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve.
The returns of Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz from Minor League camp constituted another intriguing development. Installing a long reliever in the bullpen would make it easier for the Giants to open the season with an 11-man pitching staff (and keep an additional deserving position player on the roster, such as Frandsen, Andres Torres or Eugenio Velez). The Giants have experimented with their existing bullpen candidates by using them in multiple-inning stints. But Yabu, who often pitched in long relief last year for the Giants, and Ortiz, a former starter, could be better-suited for the role than anyone remaining in big league camp.
Bochy didn’t hide the Giants’ intentions while indicating that either Yabu, who yielded the game’s only run on Richie Weeks’ fifth-inning homer, or Ortiz could return.
“We’re staying open-minded here,” Bochy said. “… It (recalling players during Spring Training who have been sent to the Minors) is not unusual at all. We tell these guys that when you go down there, you’re not out of the picture. If we have the opportunity, we’ll bring you back. They’ve been doing what they need to be doing, and that’s throw the ball well down there.”
This final item isn’t controversial, Earth-shaking or intriguing at all. Just worth mentioning. Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa turned in probably the club’s finest defensive play of the spring when he hurled himself to his right, snared Mike Lamb’s grounder and righted himself in time to flip the ball to Yabu covering first for the out.
Ishikawa looked like the reincarnation of J.T. Snow.
“That’s a highlight play right there,” Bochy said.
Ishikawa, a genuinely modest individual, couldn’t hide his delight.
“Those are the kind that you dream about, feeling like you get full extension and completing the play,” he said. “Offensively, I might not always be there, but (I’ll be) giving my all on defense as well.”
At various times this spring, Ishikawa has benefited from the tutelage of Snow and Will Clark, who made first base the glamorous position that it was when Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey roamed the bag (and the batter’s box) for the Giants.
“You’ve got two of the better first basemen who ever played,” Ishikawa said, referring to Clark and Snow. “What better first baseman’s dream is that? Two Gold Glove-winning first basemen working with you — it doesn’t get better than that.”
– Chris Haft