All-Around Good Guy
I was happy to see the Giants choose Joe Martinez for 2009 Harry S. Jordan Award winner this morning. He’s one of those guys everyone immediately likes. He’s quiet but not guarded, and he’s smart enough not to draw attention to himself while he’s a rookie. The quickest way to get the veterans grumbling is to swagger around the clubhouse and act like you own the place.
The Harry S. Jordan Award goes to the player in his first big league camp whose performance and dedication best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit. The players, coaches and training staff vote.
“He’s a great kid,” catcher Bengie Molina told me by phone today from his new rental house in Lafayette. “That’s what I look at first. He’s very, very humble. He wants to learn. He loves pitching. He’s not afraid of throwing strikes – of throwing his sinker for strikes and making the batters hit the ball. I think he’s going to be great for us.”
Martinez is a right-handed pitcher who graduated from Boston College with a business degree four years ago. He is a candidate for the final slot in the bullpen for Opening Day.
I got a hold of one of his college teammates, Mike Wlodarczyk, who is a pitcher in Double A for the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The award doesn’t come as a surprise to me,” he said. “Beyond baseball, he was a great student, responsible, an all-around good guy. If baseball hadn’t worked out, he would have been successful in whatever he did.”
In the off-season last year, Martinez worked as a substitute teacher at Columbia High School in his hometown of South Orange, N.J. – the same school where his mother, Toni, works.
Martinez, who was the Giants’ 12th round selection in 2005, made six appearances this spring, going 0-2 with a 4.12 ERA (9er, 19.2ip) with 12 strikeouts and five walks. He has made starts in each of his last five outings and has pitched exceptionally well in his last three games, allowing just two earned runs in 12.0 innings (1.50 ERA). He had a great season last year in Double A, going 10-10 with a league-best 2.49 ERA (41er, 148.0ip) in 27 starts.
In other news:
In case you haven’t read about this, you’ll find some pretty cool improvements to the park when you return this season. The main one is no surprise to a city that led the country in recycling and banning plastic grocery bags: The ballpark is going green.
The Giants are saving energy in a lot of ways but the most interesting, I think, is the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand in Promenade Level, Section 119.
The stand was completely retrofitted during the off-season. It now uses special fryers that reduce gas consumption by 32 percent, cut utility cost by more than half and automatically reduce cooking oil consumption by 12 percent. There is the Coca-Cola “Energy Management System Cooler” that saves up to 35 percent more energy than traditional models. The new lights use 36.5 percent less electricity. The signs are made with 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable materials. The drink cups are recyclable, and the paper boats and carry trays can be composted. Even the green paint used to repaint the stand is environmentally friendly.
(By the way, here’s a scary statistic for someone like me on Weight Watchers: Approximately 800 pounds of garlic fries are prepared in this stand per game.)
Here’s another high-tech change that’s pretty amazing. To save water in maintaining the field, the Giants installed a new irrigation clock that receives weather conditions, including something called “evapotranspiration” information, from five different weather stations. This information helps establish “zone watering times” so the grass is watered only when necessary. The team figures it will use 33 to 50 percent less water during the season.
Another item I really like: The new “value meals.” You can get a hot dog, peanuts and a drink for $6.25 at the Doggie Diner stands, and a hamburger, fries and a drink for $8.75 at McGraw’s Grill. In these economic times, the responsible thing, I think, is to save money with the value meal instead of saving calories with the fancy salad and carrot sticks. But that’s the kind of person I am. Always sacrificing for the good of my family.
Joe Martinez at FanFest: