Spring Training is a busy time for players. Besides focusing on the field and preparing for the grind of a 162-game schedule, players have several other obligations such as daily media requests and signing lots and lots of autographs.
Every spring, front office staff members from the Giants’ Community Relations department fly down to Scottsdale and set up in a room in the home clubhouse where players come by and sign memorabilia, ranging from baseballs, bats, jersey’s and pictures. They receive a list of how much to send down from other departments within the Giants’ organization, as each department receives an allotment of autographed items to use for sponsors, community events, guest services, consumer marketing, baseball operations, etc.
Hundreds of boxes of official Major League baseballs and bats, and a few boxes of jerseys and photos for each player on the roster are sent to Scottsdale Stadium and each player spends nearly one to two hours a day either before practice or after, signing and signing and signing. A representative from MLB is always in attendance to authentic each signed item.
How much does a player have to sign? Well, this year, Tim Lincecum has 25 dozen baseballs, 10 bats, 39 jerseys and 53 photos. He usually spreads it out over a couple of days so he’s not spending a ton of time signing. Buster Posey wins the award for having to sign the most stuff this spring, as he has 31 dozen baseballs, 82 bats, 47 jerseys and 62 photos, by far the most of any Giant.
Most of the players will get everything signed by the end of this week before the games start next Friday.
Today was the first official workout day for Giants pitchers and catchers here at Scottsdale Stadium. In past springs, manager Bruce Bochy would begin his workouts around 9:00am with players reporting to the stadium anywhere between 7:00-8:30. However, this season the workouts are starting an hour later at 10:00am to let the field dry out from the frost that covers the grass each morning. This is a big deal because it gives everyone (players, coaches, front office staff and media) an extra hour of sleep each night.
Players and coaches started trickling in today around 8:00am and the first thing that most of them do is head straight to the kitchen where a breakfast spread awaits them. After eating they’ll get dressed in their Giants gear and hang around the clubhouse, reading the newspaper, playing with their ipads or getting a card game going. Most of them too will try and get a quick workout in before practice at 10:00am.
The clubhouse is also open to media starting at 8:30 so today several writers, columnists, and TV reporters were roaming around the clubhouse knocking out interviews. One thing about being the World Champions is that the media coverage grows and today is the perfect example as national writers from ESPN, USA Today, The Sporting News and cbssportsline.com were all in attendance. Baseball Tonight’s Spring Training Bus Tour parked in the centerfield lot early this morning as their first stop was Giants’ camp. Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk were on hand, interviewing players such as Cody Ross and Brian Wilson.
After 10:00 hit, Bochy held a brief meeting with the team and then the players hit the field to warm up and loosen their arms. There are three fields at Scottsdale Stadium where the players rotate every 12 minutes or so working on throwing from the bullpen, fundamentals, bunting and PFP’s (pitcher’s fielding practice). The catching crew helps with the bullpens, get their defensive work in and then hit in the batting cage. Following the stations, 30 minutes of conditioning work is done led by Giants trainers and then by 12:30 the day’s complete. Bochy will meet with all the media to discuss the day’s events and players will shower, eat lunch and then go work on their golf game. Once the position players report on Friday the workouts will last a bit longer.
On Saturday, the Giants hosted their annual On Field Photo Day. What has become a tradition for Giants fans, is also an enjoyable experience for Giants players and coaches. 3,000 fans came to the park early for a chance to meet some of their favorite 2010 Giants as they line up in a circle in center field of AT&T Park. Players then make their way around the circle for a chance to interact with some of the Giants most passionate fans. And I mean PASSIONATE! Some were lined up before 8am.
I wish there was an On Field Photo Day back when I was a kid in the 80s, and seeing all of the young fans getting photos with their favorite Giants players is really cool. Of course, Lincecum is probably the most popular, and getting a photo with Tim is a prized possession. But Zito, Sandoval, Affeldt and Romo were also in high demand, and doing more talking than posing. Some fans didn’t even bring a camera, just wanted to be on the field and play catch.
I was truly impressed with some Giants who were literally pulled off the field, they were having as much fun as the fans. Barry Zito must have taken the most photos, and a night after going 4-0, he was in hot demand.
This is truly a special day, maybe not as popular as a Wearable Blanket or a bobblehead giveaway, but those who attend on field photo day go home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Were you one of the lucky fans on the field? Let us know your experience and share some of your photos.