Results tagged ‘ Randy Winn ’

Baseball 101: How To Make It To The Bigs

In a large room a few doors down from the Giants clubhouse, Randy Winn, F.P. Santangelo and J.T. Snow sit behind a table on a riser, facing two dozen or so fresh-faced, athletic young men, some just out of high school. These are the Giants’ top draft picks, gathered this week at AT&T Park for a week of conditioning and seminars. They are spending their mornings learning the critical importance of physical fitness, and spending their afternoons learning that physical fitness means nothing without brains and heart.

Winn, Santangelo and Snow – who collectively have 35 years in the big leagues – are here to clue these young guys in to the secret of reaching the major leagues.

Hard work.

Every other factor, they say – being a selfless teammate, staying calm and controlled through highs and lows, doing all the little things that help a team win, believing in yourself even when you’re hitting .190 – is an outgrowth of hard work.

“You go out there every single day and do what you need to do to win,” Santangelo says. “The way you make it is to play your butt off every day.”

Winn nods.

“It’s not only about talent,” he says. “At spring training, you’re going to look around and say, ‘Wow, there’s some really talented guys.’ The Giants have five or six levels of really good players. Everybody’s talented. So you have to hone your talent. I’d get to the park for early batting, early outfield practice. I spent a lot of time on the back fields of the minors.”

Snow recalls his early days in Single A, when, after being a star in college, he began his season 2-for-29, 6-for-60, 19-for-100. He was hitting .200 at the All-Star break.

“I was trying so hard and nothing was happening,” he says. “But you’ve got to stay after it. Keep working and working. The second half of the season, I hit .400.”

Part of his success, Snow says, is taking care of himself well enough to be ready to play every day. “The only day you’re 100 percent healthy is the first day of spring training,” he says. “So you have to eat right and work out so you can keep playing through all the bumps and bruises. Because if you start breaking down in the minor leagues and need days off, people take notice. That gets around.”

The men are asked what it’s like playing in the major leagues.

They all smile.

“Unbelievable,” says Winn, who is heading into his 13th ML year. “Everything I thought the big leagues would be – it’s better. It’s awesome. Great field, perfect conditions, 40,000 people, lighting is unbelievable, the facilities are great, the travel is great.

“You put in all your time in the minors with the bus trips, the bad hotels, the truck-stop meals at 3 a.m. – so when you get to the bigs, it makes it that much better.”

One of the rookies raises his hand.

“Who were the toughest pitchers you ever faced?” he asks.

Snow says Clemons and Maddux. Santangelo say Maddux and Trevor Hoffman. Winn has an even more precise answer.

“Pedro Martinez in 1999,” he says. “He threw 95 mph from the first pitch to the last. He had an 85-mph change-up with the same arm speed as his fastball. It was just silly. He made me look silly. He made me feel silly. It was totally inappropriate.” 

A Hard Lesson

It’s easy to forget sometimes that baseball is a business. The players in the clubhouse become friends. You find the one or two or three guys who can be counted on to lift you up, tell you the truth, deliver interesting dinner conversation, listen.

Then in a minute one of those guys is out of your life.

“A lot of guys in here came up to the major leagues just last year,” Rich Aurilia said in the clubhouse before today’s game against the Rockies. “They loved Dave Roberts. This is the first time they’re exposed to the business side of baseball. They didn’t know what to say to Dave. He was one of the clubhouse leaders. He cheered for everyone. He pulled for everybody. It was like, ‘Wow, this really happens in the game.”’

Aurilia and Winn are particularly close to Roberts. They were stunned when Roberts told them on Thursday he had been released. Aurilia, who was signed this year to a minor-league contract, said he figured he was a more likely candidate to be released than Roberts, who had a year left on his Giants contract.

“We lost not just a teammate but a really good friend,” Aurilia said. “Our kids played together. It was hard telling my kids that Cole (Roberts’ eight-year-old son) wasn’t going to be at the games anymore.

“One of the best things about coming back here to play was getting to know Dave and his family. He’s one of those guys who will be a friend long after we stop playing.”

Aurilia, Winn and a few other veteran players took Roberts out to dinner that night.

“Every player wants to go out on his own terms,” Aurilia said, “but almost nobody does.”

In a parting gesture the illustrated why everyone in the organization loved him so much, Roberts sent emails to individual people in the front office – the everyday workers the public never sees. He told them how much he appreciated their friendship and hard work and how much he’ll miss seeing them every day. Let me tell you, few pro athletes make a point of thanking people in an organization that just let them go.

For a great tribute to Dave Roberts, read MLB’s Chris Haft:

Baseball Luncheon on Treasure Island

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area held its annual baseball luncheon on Treasure Island Wednesday. Over chicken and tiramisu, players and staff from the Giants and A’s fielded questions from MC Greg Papa.

My personal highlight: Brian Wilson in a sport coat. My second personal highlight: Wilson and Jason Giambi showing up with the same haircut, the upswept soft-peaked Mohawk that only professional athletes and Grammy winners can pull off.

Some notes:

* Wilson on the increased pressure on Tim Lincecum: “I don’t think he has any pressure on him. He’s very competitive but he’s very loose. (When he was in the hunt for the Cy Young), he didn’t change anything about his game plan. He was always loose and joking in the clubhouse.”

* Wilson on nightlife with Barry Zito in the off-season: “We did nothing that would void a contract.”

* Randy Winn on his success on the bases last season: “I’m trying to get a little smarter as I get older. I’m talking a lot to Dave Roberts.”

* Brian Sabean on Jonathan Sanchez pitching in the World Baseball Classic: “He’ll be one of the top pitchers for Puerto Rico, which will be great for his confidence and his maturation.”

* Sabean says Sanchez is “bigger and stronger” and that the fifth spot in the rotation is his to lose. “(Noah) Lowry’s going to have to unseat him,” Sabean said. As for trading Sanchez: “I have a very hard time thinking he could be traded for his full value.”

* Asked whom the fans should be watching for on the horizon, Sabean said Bumgarner. “He’s on a very fast track. When this kid gets here, he’s not going back.”

* The folks at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area say the Bay Area has “the most passionate and underserved sports fans in the country and are hungry for more coverage.” So Comcast is dedicating one channel to the Giants and one to the A’s. The network will carry 134 regular-season games, including 75 games in HD. It also will broadcast 3 hours of live shows every day – “SportsCenter”-type programs plus a local “Sports Reporters”-like show with Chronicle reporters — from its new HD studio in San Francisco.