SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — How do you motivate a team that has won three titles in the past five seasons? Bruce Bochy thinks he found a way, and he shared part of the message he imparted during a 45-minute meeting before the morning workout. The main bullet point: You never know how long the window will stay open, so take advantage of this opportunity.
“In this game, your time is limited,” Bochy said. “It’s great to have the success we’ve had, but that window is not always there.”
Bochy wouldn’t put a timeframe on it, but it’s clear he was at least referring in part to the age of the roster. The Giants have seven pitchers on the roster who can start and all are over 30, along with the so-called Core Four in the bullpen. The infield is young, but the top four outfielders are all at least 31.
“We’re fortunate to have such a great group and the continuity that we’ve had, but you have to seize that moment,” Bochy said.
The manager wasn’t the only one to speak. Hunter Pence, of course, addressed the room, and by all accounts the message was a passionate one. You knew that already. The Giants have given off a downright professional vibe this spring, and you get the sense that many took the offseason more seriously than they did after the 2012 title. Bochy was pleased with the conditioning of his group and said being back together made for “a big day.” He hopes his message hit home. By this point, we know that he's had very few misses in those moments.
More sights and sounds from Day 7 at Scottsdale Stadium …
TEACHING MOMENT: Nori Aoki, Joe Panik, Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford are part of the same hitting group. Yes, The Hair Group for Hitters is a thing of the past. This group still proved to be interesting, though, especially because Hensley Meulens was the one throwing BP. When Aoki came up, the hitting coach yelled encouragement and gave tips in Japanese. Next up was Pagan, and Meulens switched to Spanish. Panik got his advice in English.
By the time his career was over, Meulens, a Curacao native, spoke five languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Japanese (he played in Japan in the mid 90s). It made for good theater today, and it also sets the stage for a practical joke or two. Don’t be surprised if Panik steps in one day this spring and gets a string of instructions in Japanese or Spanish.
STOCK UP: There’s no way to take much away from the first day of BP, but we’ll nonetheless use this section to highlight Panik. The Giants believe there’s more power in that bat, and Panik crushed the second pitch he saw well over the right field fence. Panik’s career-high in the minors was eight homers and he had just one in the 2014 regular season (before hitting a memorable shot in the NLCS). Panik is still just 24 and he’ll add strength over time. Even a modest jump to five or six homers would help a lineup missing the Panda and Michael Morse.
ICYMI: One of the best parts about spring training is watching the wide-eyed first-timers rub shoulders with All-Stars and MVPs. If you missed it this morning, my story on Class-A catcher Ty Ross stepping in to catch Madison Bumgarner.
QUOTABLE: “When I first met him, he was a little bigger than I expected.” -- Aoki explaining why the Bumgarner-Aoki wrestling match never went down.