FanFest was Saturday, and on the Q&A stage, players, Bruce Bochy, and Brian Sabean all said lots of words. The three Giants beat writers were there, and if you don't want to read Pavs, Baggs, or Schulman, then I don't know why you're reading this longer article about the same subject, but it's a free country. Here are the highlights they compiled, and that you'll need to read their article to get:
- Everyone loves razzing Jeremy Affeldt, even though he's gone
- Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and Javier Lopez all taking turns going after each other (and themselves)
- An update on Belt's son (he's moved on from eating dog food!)
- The unlikelihood of Tim Lincecum coming back
- Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Bruce Bochy discussing their favorite foods
- The Red Sox fan who asked Bochy if the Giants would take Pablo back (Bochy did not answer)
- Crawford/Panik/Bochy's hopes and expectations for the Giants middle infield in the future (Crawford and Panik think they'll be playing together for a long time, while Bochy hopes they can be this generation's Trammell/Whitaker, at least until Crawford bulks up to 260 pounds and moves to first base)
- More Affeldt jokes
- Denard Span described the incident that led to his fear of birds (though he said that he and birds are cool, and it was just the one incident that unsettled him)
- Brian Sabean talking about Zack Greinke
- And Hunter Pence delivered an inspirational speech, which you can watch here:
ICYMI, @hunterpence gave #KNBRFanFest #SFGFest a peek at his Spring Training speech. Thx to @mseveyvee for the vid! https://t.co/iBqs7wQeof— Kate Scott (@katetscott) February 14, 2016
But there was much more! I was at the first four Q&A panels, missing the last one (Gregor Blanco, Josh Osich, and Kelby Tomlinson) out of some stupid desire to "go outside" or some crap, but I took notes. Lots and lots of notes!
Panel 1: Lopez/Pence/Belt
The beat writers got a lot of this one in, but there were some fun moments they couldn't include.
- The three all got asked about their favorite players growing up. Belt's favorites were Juan Gonzalez and Randy Johnson, Lopez's favorite was Cal Ripken Jr, and Pence said his favorite was Javier Lopez. After that got a laugh, he got a little more serious and said he loved Rickey Henderson and Devon White (because they were fast) and Jim Thome.
- In response to a question about the 18-inning game in Washington, Javy said that Belt dropped his bat because he was tired and it was heavy. Pence razzed Lopez about the third of an inning he pitched, and Belt said that he wasn't having a great time because it was a cold night, and he was hoping it would be over by the 12th, so of course it went on for multiple hours after that.
- Lopez was asked about being the old guy on the staff, and after some mock offense, he said he loves throwing "eightypoo" and getting guys out. He also said that the Giants only ever won because they traded for him, which seems legit to me.
- Belt tried to claim that most of his charitable contributions go to his church, but immediately after he said that, Pence was all "You send Belt an email, and he'll come up with a couple thousand dollars for your cause" because Hunter Pence can't stand the thought of people not knowing how great his teammates are. Pence does most of his charity work with Make A Wish San Francisco, and Lopez works with St Anthony's because he's passionate about the homeless, and Juma Ventures because he wants to make a difference in education.
- The three of them got the Tim Lincecum question too, about whether they'll miss him if he's gone. Pence said Timmy was an electric personality in the clubhouse, Belt called him one of the good guys, and Lopez said he thinks about Timmy every time he's on his Sideboard
- At one point, Hunter Pence got on the floor and did a Pilates move, and it was incredible (it starts at about 2:00).
Panel 2: Crawford/Panik/Bochy
- The first question was about what they did during the offseason, and Crawford and Panik didn't say much ("Good offseason" from Crawford and "Lotta rehab" from Panik), but Bochy joked that he did a lot of skydiving and hang gliding, before more seriously saying that his son Brett got married in Colorado, so that took up a pretty good couple of weeks
- Bochy said he doesn't have a set opening day lineup, but it's kinda a no brainer which guys are going to be in it and it's just a matter of where they'll be hitting. He also said that the order of the rotation isn't set, but Bumgarner's going Opening Day.
- They were all asked how it felt playing in Game 7. Crawford said he had more butterflies than a normal game, and it was the most intense one he ever played. Panik said most of his butterflies came the night before, and once he was at the field he was pretty locked in. Bochy said he was mostly excited for Game 7 because it's so special. Then Crawford said he got a little nervous when Bochy brought Affeldt in, Bochy claimed to be even more nervous than that, and Panik said he wouldn't miss Affeldt walking around the clubhouse. Jeremy Affeldt jokes never go out of style, people.
- Bochy hopes the DH never comes to the NL. He said it's a different game and he almost gets a day off in AL parks. Crawford said with the DH, Bumgarner would hit for himself anyway, and that he could be a DH.
- Bochy was asked about bunting, and he was pretty clear that he didn't like it. He even cited the sabermetric studies saying that it's usually a bad decision (and used the word "sabermetrics"). He said that he considers bunting near the end of a game if one run will win it, but otherwise doesn't really like sacrifices. He doesn't even want guys trying to hit sacrifice flies in sac fly situations. He just wants them to hit the ball hard.
- Crawford and Panik talked about their All-Star experience, which they both enjoyed. They each got autographs from every member of the NL team (on balls and jerseys) and a few guys from the AL.
- Crawford and Panik both like Bochy as a manager. Crawford likes that Bochy lets them play their game. Panik likes that Bochy puts players in the best position to succeed. After Panik said that, Bochy slipped him a $100 bill.
- Bochy thinks the catcher-to-manager transition is easier than the transition from any other position because catchers manage the pitching staff and they run plays on defense, so they know both sides of the ball. Sometimes he looks in the outfield and Gregor Blanco's working on his swing between pitches, but you can't do that at catcher. He named three managers who he'd had as a player who helped him. One was Billy Smith, his manager in rookie ball. One was Dick Williams, a Hall of Fame manager he'd had with the Padres. The other one, who was the biggest influence, I didn't have time to write down. Professionalism!
- Buster Posey calls every pitch himself and the old guy you know who insists that he doesn't because he looks into the dugout a lot is wrong.
- Panik and Crawford agreed that Panik will win this year's Duffy-Panik home run race. Though at the end, Crawford said that Panik was sitting right there and that he just wanted him to feel good.
- The Lincecum question! They are also all extremely fond of Lincecum. Crawford mentioned after his first game in the majors, a Lincecum start, Timmy came over and said thanks for helping get the win. When Panik came to San Francisco to take his post-draft physical, Lincecum came up to say and and was very friendly. Bochy said Timmy is like one of his kids, because he's so fun to be around. Bochy then laughed about Tim's brainfart in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series (running the guy back to third), marveled at how athletic he is, talking about how he could jump over a fence and how the first day he saw Timmy in Spring Training Bochy looked at his body and thought there was no way he'd do anything special, and then he saw the fastball and knew he was wrong. Bochy's favorite moment with Lincecum is in Pavs's article and you should go read that too.
- The three of them all agreed that their most special moments in baseball were winning World Series, though Bochy also added that being the first manager who'd ever called his son in to pitch in a major league game was incredible for him too.
- Joe Panik's favorite New York pizza place is Vincenzo's in Queens.
- They think the fans are good. Go fans! Crawford said he has a pro-Giants fan bias because he grew up as one and that the fans bring big energy every night. Panik added that the noise in Pittsburgh in 2014 wasn't that big a deal since that's what they hear in San Francisco every night.
- Finally, a fan who said that some games keep him up at night asked how they deal with tough losses. First, Bochy asked "When you can't sleep, are you yelling at me or the players?" After that, they all agreed that you just can't dwell and that you have to bounce back. Crawford said that his family helps a lot, and Bochy said that letting mistakes go is the toughest part. When crossing the street from the park, sometimes he tries to get hit by the Muni train to try and feel better.
Panel 3: Posey/Span/Duffy
- Posey was impressed with the Samardzija and Cueto signings, calling them great pitchers with lots of personality. He said they know how great Samardzija can be since he took a perfect game into the 7th or 8th against the Giants a couple years ago, and Cueto's crafty but at 93-95 and with huge sink, which is unique. Span called them both front of the rotation guys and said "Pack a lunch."
- Span was asked about his injury and he said he feels so good that Giants coaches are probably going to try and slow him down.
- Posey also said that he doesn't feel the need to help in recruiting free agents. If Sabean and Evans ask him to, he's happy to do it, but he mostly just lets them do their job.
- Span came out and said Giants FanFest was definitely killing Nationals FanFest. He wanted to come here because the team wins World Series and he wants to win, so it was an obvious choice. During one of Posey's answers, he took video of the crowd, so Posey (jokingly) called him a bad teammate.
- Duffy said he put on a little weight, but not too much. He's still pretty lean, though admittedly not in the arms, which are pretty ripped (as you probably saw on Instagram).
- They were all asked what they like about Bochy. Posey said that he doesn't micromanage and he keeps pushing players to do their best. Even in 2013, "a lost year," Bochy kept pushing because he has that intensity and expects the best no matter what. Duffy called him a calming presence who puts guys in the best position to succeed. Span said he's heard great things and is looking forward to playing for him; when Larry Krueger tried to get him to trash talk Matt Williams and last year's Nationals clubhouse, he declined.
- Posey's favorite players growing up were Andruw and Chipper Jones, Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, and Javy Lopez. Span, also a Braves fan, talked about Deion Sanders, Ron Gant, and Mark Lemke. Duffy loved DAVID ECKSTEIN. Duffy also got some good-natured boos for being an Angels fan at the 2002 World Series.
- The fans are good. That's us! We're the good fans!
- When asked about the division, Posey was complimentary of all the teams, saying the Dodgers and Diamondbacks were very strong and the Rockies and Padres had excellent lineups. He mentioned that Kershaw and Greinke are among the best pitchers in baseball and you should always have a chip on your shoulder facing the best. Kershaw's always on, and it's vitally important to change your approach every time you face him, so sometimes you'll swing at first pitches, and sometimes you won't. Span said the Diamondbacks were gonna be good and when asked about the Dodgers, said "the who?" He'll do well here.
- Posey is anti-DH because he likes watching pitchers hit, because he is America's greatest hero. He said sometimes they're really good and that's fun to watch (he also said Bumgarner talks a lot of trash) and sometimes they're not good and that's fun to watch. Duffy said he likes the separation of leagues. Span said that he came up with the Twins, so after he was traded to the Nationals he didn't really understand what was happening when he was double-switched out. He was on the stage saying, almost pleadingly, "Don't take me out, Coach. I hustle, Coach!" If he manages someday, it'll be in the AL because it's easier.
- Posey and Duffy were asked about all the ex-Giants who left, and they said they'll both miss them all and that they were great in the clubhouse. They did not get a specific Tim Lincecum question because instead of audience questions, Larry Krueger asked almost everything on this panel.
- As to their plans for life after their playing careers are done, Posey said he has too much baseball left to even think about that. For Duffy, baseball's always been a big part of his life, and he can't imagine that ever changing. And Span said after he's done playing, he'll probably take a year or two off but eventually he'll come back and share what he's learned with the next generation.
- Posey's going to get to know the new pitchers by having conversations with them. He'll "try to understand Johnny Cueto first and foremost." Then he'll catch bullpens and Spring Training games, and build their relationship that way.
- The last few questions were actually asked by fans, and one asked Posey how he avoided showing a lot of emotion on the field and why, for example, you never see him throw his helmet. To that, he said, "Well we all want to," but it's important for players to restrain themselves. Duffy chimed in and said, "I just do what Buster does."
- A fan asked Posey if, on days when he played first base, he could chillax a little more. Posey responded: "Chillax? Is that what you said?" He went on to add that it's a little easier at first, and he has to stretch more when he's playing catcher, so on days he doesn't start there, he does get to "chillax a little more."
- And when asked about moving off catcher, Posey said he doesn't want to move off catcher and it seems like he has to answer that question every year.
Panel 4: Cain/Heston/Sabean
- Brian Sabean mentioned that last year was different than every other year he's had with the Giants. First, he went to a more games on the road than ones at home, and second, he got to see the AAA team twice, which he had never done since becoming GM. Those were both firsts for him.
- Matt Cain was asked how it'll feel facing the Red Sox and their third baseman this year, and he said it'll definitely be different, but they know Pablo pretty well and hopefully that'll help them in getting him out.
- Growing up, Chris Heston was a Braves fan. Matt Cain was kinda a Braves fan but also kinda a Cubs fan. As a kid, he mostly just liked watching the game.
- A woman about to ask a question said she'd been to every no-hitter since 2009, and Heston asked how to put her on the travel schedule.
- Cain's goal every year is to stay healthy. If he can throw 200 innings and take pressure off of the bullpen, he's done his job.
- Sabean wasn't surprised that a third team jumped in on the Greinke negotiations, but he was surprised it was Arizona. Still, he said it might have been fortuitous, since the team was able to sign two pitchers instead of just one. He said Bobby Evans did a really good job keeping a lot of balls in the air with free agents.
- Asked about ads, Cain said Buster has a good one this year, and then added "He's cute."
- Someone asked about each person's favorite restaurant. Heston said House of Prime Rib, and was really excited about it. Cain loves going to Ozuna, and Sabean passed on that question.
- Sabean was asked about Lincecum (him again!) and said that he expects that Timmy wants a starting spot so the Giants are probably more of a fallback option for him.
- Heston said that if the possibility of playing in Havana came up, he'd be excited to do it, and Cain agreed.
- Looking back on his career, Sabean said that the longer he's in this business the more he appreciates effort and competition. Now that he can separate himself from the past a little better, he can look back on the team's success and be proud that he and the front office created a culture where everyone worked hard. The most important thing he's learned about on-field performance is the importance of health.
- Cain praised the fans for being so good outside the ballpark. He said that fans are good about saying hi but also being respectful of his personal time, which makes it really easy to be a normalish person. Heston isn't quite as recognizable, but he said he does his best for the fans because he remembers being a kid waiting for autographs, and he wants to make it fun.
- Sabean's job is different than it used to be because now he's trying to be more of a guiding hand instead of making all the moves himself. He said the front office is one of the leaner ones in baseball, because they value continuity and they retain so many people. They're a tight knit group, the most important thing is to be in sync with ownership, and he was happy to pass the GM baton to Bobby Evans.
- Grant just wrote about previous comments on Cuban players, so go read that, because Sabean basically just reiterated that point.
- The three of them were all asked about whether when they watched games on TV, they did so as fans or as baseball professionals. Sabean said he does both; with the Giants he doesn't get caught up in the results of one game, but when watching some other teams he absolutely does. When Cain's injured, he watches the game on TV and it looks so easy that he forgets how hard it is. Heston mostly removes the player side of things watching TV games, but there's that little player bit that comes through because he knows "I'll have to face him someday."
- Heston didn't watch the playoffs because he was bitter the Giants weren't in them. Cain was bitter too, but he watched some because he wanted to make sure the Dodgers didn't do too well. He's done well here.
- Sabean said that Casilla is the closer, and that Santiago doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he's done as a Giant. He called Casilla an unsung hero.
- Cain likes the NL style of play because he likes the strategy of the game, and he also likes that if you start throwing at people, the other team can come right back and throw at you. Heston likes to swing the bat, and definitely wants to keep the DH out of the NL.
- Last year, Heston learned that it's a long season, and this year he just wants to build on that. He said he's excited for any opportunity he gets so he's not worried about being a starter. There are two kinds of baseball players: humble and gonna be humbled.
- Someone asked Sabean about Barry Bonds's personal services contract and he said that it's in abeyance since Barry signed a contract to be hitting coach with the Marlins.
- Other than AT&T Park, Cain's favorite place to pitch was Boston, where he started a game in 2007 and lost 1-0 to Daisuke Matsuzaka. Still, it was a great experience for him. Cain doesn't like throwing in Milwaukee. Heston really enjoyed pitching at Wrigley Field this year (and Citi Field, obviously), and does not care for Coors. "You can keep it," he said.
- The most openly superstitious of the three was Sabean, who will never wear a blue shirt when the Giants are playing the Dodgers, and during the division series against the Reds in 2012 had to change jackets because the one he wanted to wear had a red pocket liner. Heston said he doesn't have any crazy superstitions but follows a routine and does the same stuff every day, and Cain's habit is to eat breakfast at around noon or 1 PM on days he pitches.
- Concussions: Probably no helmet will ever be able to prevent concussions. When you get hit, your brain's gonna rattle around in there no matter what. We're better at diagnosing concussions now. The signs you can look for are an inability to maintain eye contact and not knowing what's going on, but those are just the serious, call-an-ambulance concussions. If those signs aren't there, the person might still have a concussion, but there isn't an immediate danger.
- Marco Scutaro: Someone asked about whether Joe Panik's injury was similar to Scutaro's, and the answer was an unequivocal no. "I love Marco, but he's old," said one doctor, saying his body was incredibly banged up when he was with the Giants, he'd already played through tons of injuries, and comparing him and Panik is "apples and oranges."
- How to play sports in a healthy way: Don't play baseball year round. No professional athlete does that. It's very bad for you. Playing multiple sports is good, and you should do that instead. Throwing year round is contributing to the Tommy John epidemic.
- Pablo Sandoval: Pablo Sandoval used to lie during the offseason and tell the trainers he was in great shape when that wasn't remotely true.