Results tagged ‘ Rich Aurilia ’

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: http://chrishaft.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/03/an_ode_to_dave_roberts.html

A Little Friendly Chin Music

Pretty good
succession of pitchers for today’s first round of batters:

Johnson, Lincecum
and Zito.

Johnson
didn’t participate in live batting practice Friday, so this was the first time
his new teammates have faced him this spring. Among the batters Johnson faced:
Fred Lewis. As a rookie last season, Lewis became the first left-handed batter
ever to go four-for-four against the five-time Cy Young Award winner.

Johnson’s
first pitch to Lewis today had Lewis jerking back from the plate. A little
inside.

“He
let me know he ain’t forgotten,” Lewis said later, laughing about it.

When
Lincecum trotted in from the outfield to replace Johnson, Shawon Dunston – a
roving instructor for the Giants’ minor leagues now – was taking throws at
first. Rich Aurilia, Dunston’s former teammate, was about step to the plate.

“Richie!”
Dunston yelled. “Who’s the new guy? Looks like a little guy. You should tear
‘em up!”

“You
come try!” Aurilia shouted.

“I had my time.
I’ll take the next one!”

Bengie Molina, who
caught both Johnson and Lincecum today, said both pitchers accomplished what
they wanted. Johnson is building up stamina, not throwing all out yet, not
trying to get too cute. Lincecum, a generation younger, is already working on
hitting corners – and succeeding, Molina said.

“It’s very
difficult, though, for pitchers to throw against their own guys because you
don’t want to risk hurting anyone,” Molina said. “But you’ve got to get
ready.”

At third base,
Pablo Sandoval looked like he belonged at his new position. It’s not really a
new position. Third base was his home for most of his life before he became a
catcher in the pros. Today, among several highlights, he made a diving stop on
an Aurilia bullet to third – a play spectacular enough to earn the rare
“Ohhhhh!” from his teammates. When Sandoval leapt for a high line drive and
missed, however, Molina howled and held his fingers an inch a apart.

“That’s
how much you air you got!” he hollered out to Sandoval. “You didn’t even get
one inch!”

Sandoval
held his fingers two inches apart.

“I
think two.”

“Well,
don’t be getting any of mine,” Molina teased as he waited his turn at the
plate. “Let me be happy with my hits while I can.”

Molina
is crazy about Sandoval. He credits the rookie with lifting everyone’s spirits
when he joined the team late last summer.

“When
he came in, he changed the club big time,” Molina says. “He is so happy every
day. So excited to be here. He has this fearlessness, too. That’s what you need
on a team, guys like that.”

The Crud was still making its way
through the clubhouse. Six guys were out sick today, plus J.T. Snow. Now it has
attacked the press corps. Andy Baggarly from the Mercury News was stricken,
though he managed to stay upright long enough this afternoon to file his
stories. (I figure if players get credit for playing hurt, so should the press.
I’m biased, of course.)

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