2012

Thank you again for purchasing 7 Day Fast. I hope that it inspired you and made an impact on your life. The following paragraphs are a synopsis of my first season with the Giants. It was an awesome experience and I am happy to announce that they have renewed my contract to be the hitting coach in the Arizona Rookie League for the 2013 season.

My first day was on January 9th. I reported to the Minor League Complex at 9am in Scottsdale and suited up in my Giants gear for the first time. My job for the next two months leading up to Spring Training was to simply work with the hitters who attended our January strength and conditioning camp, players who were rehabbing an injury and guys who showed up early for Spring Training. I would spend the first hour and a half doing my own workout in the weight room and then go down to the indoor batting cage around 11am. For the next two hours I was available for tee work, front toss or batting practice. The boys were really excited for Daddy’s new job so they came down to the complex and hung out in the coach’s locker room.

Spring Training began on March 1st and on the first day all of the coaches met in the conference room to discuss every player we have in the minor league system. I think the meeting lasted 3 or 4 hours and I took notes the whole time. I figured it would give me some good insight on the players because I really didn’t know any of these guys. My right hand felt like a pretzel when I was done.

The cool thing about the Giants is that we have some coaches with amazing resumes. Felipe Alou was one of the best managers of his time and he would set time aside to talk to me every day about baseball strategy. Joe Amalfitano and Jim Davenport also managed in the big leagues and between the two of them have over 100 years of professional baseball experience! I did my best to just shut up and listen whenever these men, as well as many of our other coaches, spoke about the game.

Spring Training was going great and I was really enjoying myself. It was my first one since 2000, when I was released by the Angels. On Sunday, March 18th I was feeding the curve ball machine in the batting cage and Ryan Lollis hit a hard line drive off the top of the net. It came straight down, hit the wheel of the machine, which then spun the ball back into the side of my face. Everything stopped for a second and the next thing I heard was “TRAINER”! Skyler Stromsmoe took off sprinting to the training room and I stood there hunched over collecting myself. I was trying to figure out if the blood trickling down my face was coming from the inside or outside of my nose. Turns out it was both. I wasn’t in very much pain and once I saw the look on Ryan’s face, I wanted him to know it wasn’t a big deal. He felt so bad, but heck it’s a million to one shot. I shook his hand and walked to the training room.

Andrew who is one of our trainers took me to the ER & they said I had a small fracture on the side of my nose. When I got back to the minor league facility later that morning, I found a catcher’s mask in my locker. Pretty funny. The Giants sent me to a Ear, Nose & Throat specialist a day later & that’s when I found out I also sustained a deviated septum. They scheduled corrective surgery on the 26th, but said I was cleared to return to practice until the surgery. For the next few days everything was normal except that I had to tell the story five times a day every day. That got old quick, but I was very thankful that the damage was not worse. My vision was fine & my sniffer still worked. I ended up having to miss a few days after the surgery, but was back in time before Spring Training ended.

Spring Training ended on April 1st, which meant all the players that made the AAA, AA, A+ and A teams left for their respective cities. For the next 2 months the Rookie and Short Season A coaching staffs, along with the remaining minor league players, went through Extended Spring to prepare the upcoming season which began in mid-June. The month of April went great, but May was a bit of a grind. Everyone was ready to get to their season.

The player draft was June 4th-6th, which brought in some new players to our organization. Many of them were signed immediately and while some went to Salem with our Short Season A team, quite a few stayed with us with the Arizona Rookie League team. Our first game was on the 20th and for the first couple weeks we played .500 ball. We went on a small winning streak in the middle of July. We ended the month with a record of 19-14, with an opportunity to make a push to earn a playoff spot. The tough part is we have to catch up to the Cubs & A’s who are both in our division and playing well.

We continue at our .500 clip for the first 2 weeks of August and are not making up any ground on the teams in front of us. Essentially it’s playoff baseball for us the next 2 weeks, just so we can qualify for the postseason. We win 4 of our next 5 and with 7 games left, we figure we have to win at least 5 of them. We split a 2 game set with the Angels, then beat the A’s the next night. We have 4 games now on the schedule and 2 of them are against the teams we are chasing for the wildcard- the Cubs. If we lose one of those 2 games, we are out of the playoffs.

On Aug 25th we head to Mesa extremely confident we can pull this off. We jump out to an early lead, but the Cubs battle back and then take the lead. We score to tie the game up in the 5th and both clubs pitch and play solid defense for the next 3 innings. In the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs get a walk-off single up the middle and our playoff dreams end. We play out the string and finish up with another win and a couple of losses. Our record ends up a very respectable 32-24, which is good for the 5th best in the Arizona League.

Instructional League begins on September 17th, so I get the first 2 weeks of the month off. It’s a nice mental and physical blow, but I’m excited for “Instructs”. It’s very much like Spring Training, only with about 25% of the players. Most of them are from our AZ Rookie, Short Season A and A teams. The season last one month and I have a blast getting to know the players I didn’t get a chance to work with yet. Some of them also were with one of our other teams during Spring Training while were part of this year’s draft class and never spent a day with our AZ Rookie team.

All of our Minor League Roving Instructors are also a part of this so it gives me an opportunity to spend some time and build relationships with them as well. Kirt Manwaring is our roving catching instructor and I spend a lot of time with him. He was part of the 1989 World Series team and won a gold glove in 1993 so I just shut up and listen. Lee Smith is our roving pitching instructor and he has the 3rd most saves in Major League history. Same deal. Just hang around these 2 and listen to their stories.

The Instructional League season goes well and ends on a great note. The last game is at home against the Royals on October 18th, and at this point everyone wants to go home. The score is tied in the 9th and no one wants to go an extra frame. Before we hit in the bottom of the 9th I joke with our 1st baseman, Tyler Brown and say “Hey man, can you just hit a bomb so we can get outta here?!” He’s due up 3rd that inning and wouldn’t you know it– BOOM! A long fly ball to LF and it is way out! He touches the plate with a huge smile and we have a good laugh. A nice exclamation point to a my 1st season coaching with the Giants.

Well the minor league season was done, but the big league club still had some work to do. As you know they were battling the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series and after the 1st 4 games, we were down 3-1. The best thing about the 2012 Giants was that they never quit. After rattling off 3 wins in a row, we were in the World Series against the Tigers and guess who got to go. Yessir! All the minor league staff, with their families!

On October 24th Taleen, Connor, Bryce and I all boarded a plane for the 1st time together. This trip was an absolute CIRCUS! The boys would stand in their seats when the seat belt sign was on and Connor made 3 visits to the bathroom on this 2 hour flight. Bryce decided that he was too tired to walk through the airport so he just laid down in the middle of walkway while people stepped over and to the side of him. We finally get to our hotel, and after a couple hours of down time we head to AT & T Park, the home of the NL Champion Giants! We beat up Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Game 1 and Pablo Sandoval sets a World Series record with 3 home runs in one game. The final score is 8-3 and the park is absolutely electric!

The next day all the staff meets at the ballpark for a scouting meeting and they give us some NL Championship shirts and hats. Before I go back to the hotel, I head down to the team shop and buys some Giants shirts for the boys. One of Taleen’s cousins lives nearby so we meet here for lunch and kick back for a while in the hotel. We head back to the ballpark a few hours early before Game 2 and the Giants have set up a pre-game party for all staff and their families in an enclosed area underneath the right field stands. We grub on some really good food and watch the Tigers take batting practice from behind the warning track in right center field. We win this one 2-0 and head back to Phoenix while the big club flies to Detroit.

After an off day, the Giants are ready to take a strangle hold on the series. My sister Mary and brother-in-law Joe take the 5 hour drive from Louisville, KY to watch the game in Detroit. They are going as Giant fans so they will me in the minority, but as you can see Joe is a proud fan! There are great baseball fans in Detroit and being from there I would like to see them get a win for the sake of the city and my friends that I grew up with. However, the Tigers are a great team and even one win could give them a ton of momentum, so those thoughts are dashed quickly. Game 3 is a great pitching battle, but the Giants do a better job of silencing the powerful Tiger offense. We win 2-0 and now have a suffocating 3-0 lead in the series. This gives us our 6th win in a row and now we are only 1 win away from another World Series Championship!

Game 4 is the next day and now one of my best friends, Danny Lehman, is in attendance. We have been friends since kindergarten and attended Game 2 of the 2006 World Series together as Tiger fans. It was about 20 degrees that night and we watched Kenny Rogers pitch a gem to give the Tigers a win. As a kid, Danny used to fall asleep listening to Ernie Harwell’s play by play on the radio. He is a huge Tiger fan and attends a lot of there home games. Again in my heart a part of me wanted to see the Tigers win, especially since Danny was there. However once the game started my competitive juices started flowing and I just wanted this series over with! This was an awesome game. It went back and forth all game long and ended up going extra innings. Marco Scutaro lined an RBI single up the middle in the 10th and Sergio Romo shut the Tigers down in the bottom frame to secure the 4-3 victory. The Giants swept the Tigers and we are jumping up and down in the living room like a bunch of little kids. Now my 1st season with the Giants is really over and what an amazing season it was.

Last year I was just praying for any job and the Lord gave me more than I ever expected. It just goes to show you that when you get out of the way and let God take over, He will grant you more than you ever dreamed.

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