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How have big league Giants helped out younger players?

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By giving them advice. Next question!

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Hunter deserves a victory lap. He deserves a lot of victory laps.
Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

There’s power that comes with being a big leaguer. Every action you take is scrutinized, every word you say means something, and you’re a role model for younger players on their way up. Like the greatest American of all time once learned, with that power comes responsibility, and by the way RIP Spider-Man, how sad it is that you died at the end of a comic book movie and are never, ever being resurrected in any way.

Sure, that responsibility applies to simple things like buying the spread in the minors (and doesn’t seem to apply to not selling out Minor League Baseball in CBA negotiations, ha ha, funny story, I definitely didn’t ask anyone about that), but it also obviously applies on the field too. When you’re The Veteran in a clubhouse, you should be putting yourself out there for the younger guys like Gregor Blanco discussed when I interviewed him.

For some guys, it’s as simple as just being themselves. Hunter Pence had a long “rehab” in Sacramento last year, where everyone knew he was physically healthy but trying to find his swing. Did he allow the bitterness of being stranded in the minors to overwhelm him or did he ... oh, he’s Hunter Pence. You know he was great.

”I feel like he’s embraced being a member of our team a little bit while he’s been here, and that’s been really cool to see,” Tyler Rogers told me near the end of Pence’s time in AAA. “ He’s had a huge impact in this clubhouse for sure.” It’s not that Pence was satisfied being in Sacramento, but while he was there he was going to be as Hunter Pence as possible and embrace the opportunity he was getting, and there was an important lesson in there for anyone who wanted to see it.

Being inspiring by being yourself isn’t restricted to the Pences of the world. The guy Ray Black singled out wasn’t even a major leaguer at the time, though he would be within a few months. “[I remember] watching Hunter Strickland’s work ethic ... He was in San Jose that year (Ed. Note: 2014). The guy’s a freak. He’s an absolute monster and he’s got a great work ethic and I’ve always admired that about him and I’ve always tried to emulate that or copy that.”

The thing about that responsibility is that it doesn’t stop when you make it to San Francisco. You’re always looking for someone to help out, especially if he’s a young player having a rough time in his first stint in the majors. A player like Ryder Jones, for example, who mentioned Nick Hundley as a guy who helped him out before moving on to players a little more similar to him:

”Panik’s helped me a lot. Crawford’s helped me a lot, just because left-handed hitters who are infielders, so I kinda gravitate towards them. They’ve helped me deal with ups and downs. Last year, I was struggling. Crawford struggled his first year too, so we just kinda related on that and he helped me out.”

And then there are the young guys who will seek out help from anyone. Trevor Brown, the Giants’ backup catcher in 2016, obviously went to Buster Posey to improve on defense, but he didn’t limit himself to guys that hit like him. In fact, the one he singled out was pretty different:

”Hitting, I’ll pick anybody’s brain. I remember Denard [Span] was a guy that I talked to a lot just because he’s been around a while. I know he’s left handed, but just [about] pitch selection, and he was a patient guy. I felt like he always had a good plan up there.”

For a catcher, though, you have to be able to handle the pitching staff, and being shy with your teammates won’t do you any favors when you’re looking to learn.

”Samardzija’s been really big with me about talking with just pitching in general,” Brown continued. “I’ve caught a lot of those guys: Cueto and Cain. I’ve really been lucky with the guys I’ve caught because for the most part, I’ve caught a lot of veteran guys, which is cool because talking with them, they obviously have a good feel for what they want to do. When they’re telling me what they want to do with pitches, like, “Hey, I want to do this and this with this guy,” it’s like, okay, now I can think and process why he wants to do that and what they’re seeing in guys’ swings.”

That learning process is exactly what every veteran wants to see from every younger player he mentors. It’s rewarding to know that you had a part in a guy’s development. It’s important to help out your teammates, which directly helps your team.

And, of course, it’s always satisfying to fulfill your responsibility to the next generation.