Results tagged ‘ Joe Martinez ’

Busmans Holiday

The Giants were off on Monday, so Alex Hinshaw decided to head down to San Jose and take in a Giants game. His roommate, Joe Martinez, thought that sounded like a good idea, so he went, too.

When they arrived, who do they see but Pablo Sandoval, who took in the game with a cousin and a friend from Venezuela.

“Pablo is loved down there,” Hinshaw said in the clubhouse before today’s game against the Padres. “You should have seen it. He’s walking down the aisle and everybody’s cheering for me.

“And everybody was asking how Joe was doing. I thought I flew completely under the radar when I was playing there, so I didn’t think I had made much of an impression, but the fans who did remember me were nice enough to say how much they had enjoyed watching me play.

“The fans down there just treat you like gold, whether you’re the best guy or the worst guy on the team.”

They saw Buster Posey hit two balls that almost cleared the right-centerfield wall – an impressive showing. Conor Gillaspie hit his first home run of the season and Clayton Tanner pitched 5 2/3 innings to lead the Giants to a 6-3 victory over the Lake Elsinore Storm. Every Giants starter had at least one hit in their 13-hit game. San Jose has won five out of their last six games with a 9-3 overall record.

After the game, Sandoval bought dinner for whole clubhouse, arranging for a local Italian restaurant to have the food delivered. Omar Vizquel had done the same thing when he was down in San Jose rehabbing an injury, and Sandoval, a player on the San Jose Giants at the time, never forgot it. Emmanuel Burriss did it once last season, too.

“Classy thing to do, for those guys to go down there,” Giants exec Bobby Evans said when I ran into him yesterday. “It says something about the San Jose Giants that these guys will go down there on their day off to watch them.”

Sandoval, actually, hadn’t planned on attending the game. He drove down to San Jose to visit with the family who had hosted him during his playing days there. “Seeing them made me want to go to the stadium and watch the game,” Sandoval said.

Hinshaw and Martinez also visited with their host families. Hinshaw lived with a family named the Hoos, and when Tim Lincecum was drafted in 2006 and sent to San Jose, he ended up also living with the Hoos.

“We’ve kept in touch and it was great to be down there and see everybody again,” Hinshaw said.

As an added bonus, Hinshaw and Martinez got to see Sandoval play Smash for Cash, a contest in which fans throw baseballs and try to smash the headlights on a truck that has been driven onto the field.

“He went down there with his man-purse – we give him a hard time about his man-purse,” Hinshaw said. “He hit the lights but didn’t break anything.”

Joe Martinez, Pablo Sandoval, and Alex Hinshaw at the San Jose Giants game, Monday, April 20, 2009:

Joe Martinez, Pablo Sandoval and Alex Hinshaw at Municipal Stadium 4.20.09.JPG

Quick Study

Andres Torres was waiting by the batting cage behind the Giants dugout this morning, his bat resting on his shoulder. He had already taken his swings but was back for another session before today’s game against the Diamondbacks.

“I didn’t really learn anything about hitting until I was 18,” he said. That’s when he left Puerto Rico for Miami-Dade Community College to play baseball. “I think if you don’t learn it when you’re a kid, it’s a lot tougher. I’m still learning.”

For years, Torres managed to survive in professional baseball on his speed. In 12 years, he played 89 games in the major leagues – compiling a .210 average. Until he made the Giants roster out of spring camp this year, he hadn’t worn a major-league uniform in more than three years.

“I was just fast,” Torres said. “But I didn’t know how to hit. It just took me a lot of time to learn. It took me awhile just to learn that you can’t just be fast. You’ve got to be able to swing the bat.”

He studies other batters. He takes video of himself in the batting cage and consults with hitting coach Carney Lansford. He talks to other players. In other words, he is applying to batting the kind of studiousness he has once reserved solely for running.

And perhaps no baseball player knows more about running fast than Torres. He has made the cultivation of speed his life’s work.

He studies human kinetics and physiology to understand how the body generates speed. He is a student of the books of Tudor Bompa, who writes about a training method called “periodization.” He studies videos and training regimens of Olympic sprinters like Asafa Powell of Jamaica. He scours the internet for the latest techniques.

Even at 31, he’s the fastest guy on the Giants – and Eugenio Velez is no slouch.

“Age doesn’t matter if you work at it,” Torres said.

Friday night, his two passions came together.

He hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the eighth inning Friday night in a 2-0 win against the Diamondbacks. It was only the second homer of his ML career.

Almost by instinct, he flew around the bases so fast that he reached home plate before the relief pitchers — watching the game in a room behind the dugout – had reached the field.

More on Torres in a later blog . . .

Saw Joe Martinez today in the clubhouse. He looks amazingly good. He said the only symptom of the hit to his head is fatigue. He’s tired a lot, he says, but he thinks it might just be from lying around. “You get tired when you’re not doing anything,” Martinez said. “So I don’t really think it has anything to do with the injury.”

 

 

I’m leaving the press box to watch the game from my seats in Section 109 . . .

No rain delay!

Just a quick note about how the guys have been passing the time while they waited for the rain to stop – and see if they were going to get out on the field at all.

At one table, Brian Wilson (with a new hairdo that calls to mind Frisch’s Big Boy) and Matt Cain took on rookies Alex Hinshaw and Joe Martinez in a card game called Pluck. It’s similar to Spades, I’m told. Hinshaw was just learning the strategy, and Martinez surely didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot – so the youngsters lost.

“We got killed,” Martinez said.

Tim Lincecum fluttered around the table, eating a bagel, dancing a little bit, singing a little bit – then taking Cain’s spot in the game when Cain went off to eat. He and Wilson played a two-handed game called Montana that is based on poker hands. That’s all I understood.

Elsewhere, Travis Ishikawa was working a USA Today crossword puzzle. Bengie Molina was listening to music and trying to figure out how to send to his laptop a photo his daughter had just sent to his IPhone. Nate Schierholtz was comparing two different bats he had just received.

“They misspelled my name on this one,” he said, holding up the all-white ash bat, “so I I think I’ll go with this one.” He has a maple one that, by 2009 season regulations, has to be painted black on the barrel and have a black mark on the handle.

Eugenio Velez was bending and punching the pocket of his glove. Pablo Sandoval was, literally, skipping through the clubhouse and snapping his fingers to the blaring music.

“If there’s a rain delay, it’ll be a lot nicer in here than in the minor leagues,” Ishikawa said. “This is really comfortable and there’s a kitchen. In the minors, you’re just looking outside and talking on the phone.”

Ishikawa, who lives in Danville, had 13 people coming to the game to watch him in his first Opening Day.

More after the game . . .

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:

MartinezJ.jpg

A Night in San Jose

I did a double take when I saw pitcher Sergio Romo with his teammates at the Giants fan event at the Britannia Arms restaurant in downtown San Jose last night.

Romo’s round baby face was lean and angular. Last season he almost could have passed for a guy who played on the company softball team. Now he looks ready for the San Francisco marathon.

I told him he looked great and asked how much weight he lost.

“Last time I checked, about 12 pounds,” he said. “People here (with the Giants) are taking me seriously, so I’ve got to take it seriously, too.”

He played fall ball in Mexicali, Mexico, then attended the Giants’ three-week conditioning camp in Scottsdale. He continued training at home in Yuma, forgoing a vacation.

“(The trainers) took the time to teach me what I should be doing, and I saw what a difference it made,” Romo said.

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Here is the first thing I heard when the team arrived at the Brit Arms into a crowd of fans:

That little kid? He looks like the kid that rides the bus to the mall in Santa Cruz!”

The incredulous woman’s companion had just pointed out the 2008 Cy Young Award winner.

 

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Rookie RH pitcher Joe Martinez — signing autographs at a table between Steve Holm and Kevin Frandsen — went straight from the instructional league in November to Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J.

Since he was signed by the Giants out of Boston College in 2005, Martinez has earned a few bucks every off-season by working at a substitute teacher.

“He teaches whatever class they need him to teach – gym, Spanish,” said his girlfriend, Lindsay Harrington. The two met while students at BC. Harrington works at a public relations firm in Boston.

Alex Hinshaw’s fiancť, Courtney, is much more comfortable going into this season than she was last year when Hinshaw was a rookie.

“I was a little intimidated and a little worried about what we were going to find when Alex was called up to San Francisco. But there are so many good guys here. I can’t imagine there’s any other team like this. We feel really lucky.

“Brian Wilson and Barry Zito have been amazing,” she said. “And Jack Taschner. I commend them on how they’ve helped him grow. They gave him a taste of the nightlife and a taste of responsibility. A little bit of everything.”

She and Hinshaw met at San Diego State. Courtney was a basketball player and would have liked to become a high school coach.

“But this has always been his dream,” she said. “So I’m putting that first. He’s had such a tough time getting here, so I want to help him see this through. I get so much joy from seeing him so happy.”

The two plan to get married in November in Oregon, where Courtney’s parents live.

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Look for another post later today from the players’ meetings with new managing general partner Bill Neukom, media interviews and lunch with the Giants office staff.

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Lincecum at Britannia Arms:

Lincecum San Jose.jpg

Lincecum San Jose 2.jpg

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