June 7th, 2011

Hurt — But Appreciating the Bigs: Brandon Belt

I have a cast on my wrist now to make sure the fractured bone doesn’t move. We’ll do a CT scan next week and hopefully go back to a splint for another week. Then I hope they give me the OK to get back on the field.

One thing all the veterans tell me is to be patient with an injury. The worst thing you can do is start playing again before you’re healed. Then you end up doing more damage and you have an injury that won’t go away.

In the meantime, it is so great to be back in the majors. Big difference between the majors and Triple A – which you really notice when you’ve been back and forth like I have.

In Triple A, we get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to catch a commercial flight for a road trip. It’s usually on a small plane, so when you’re as tall as I am, there’s no sleeping. And you have to be careful to keep your luggage under 50 pounds. Sometimes you go right to the park. Or you might have a few hours of down time at the hotel. But it seems you’re always tired when you’re on the road.

In Triple A, you get $25 a day for meal money. We eat a lot of burritos at Chipotle’s. In the majors, you get more than $100 (I can’t remember exactly how much), so you can eat wherever you want.

But here’s what I like most about the big leagues: the water pressure in the showers. The water pressure is outstanding. You get clean in half the time.

Haylee flew into St. Louis to meet me during that road trip. I’ve always wanted to go to St. Louis because it’s such a great baseball town. And I wanted my wife to go with me. The ballpark there is awesome. The whole atmosphere. And that team. They have so many great players that I grew up watching. Pujols. Berkman. Holliday. Then you add the guys we have on our team, and you’ve got a lot of stars on one field.

Back here in San Francisco, after the day game on Sunday, Haylee and I drove to San Jose to see my host mom, Stacy Hanel. I lived with her from April to July last year when I played Single A. She made us dinner then we watched the movie “The Town’’ (with Ben Affleck) and spent the night. She really is like a second mom. We formed such a bond that she came to our wedding in Texas late last year, and we always keep in touch. I was the first player she ever hosted. (I kid her that every player after me is at a disadvantage because I set the bar so high . . .)

 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to write me with questions!

-Brandon

 

 

Advice from a Dodger – Mark DeRosa

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.  I flew home to Georgia after seeing my surgeon in Cleveland. I spent six days with my family and got to take my daughter to the last day of second grade. I had time to relax a little and think about everything that’s happened in the last year and a half.

As you might have read, I’m not having surgery. My torn tendon will simply remain torn. (It basically rolled up into my arm like a snapped rubber band.) Because the tendon is gone, it can no longer cause me pain. So that was the good news. The bad news is that my days of being an every-day player are in serious jeopardy.

The last couple of days, I’ve picked the brain of Dodgers outfielder Jay Gibbons, the only guy in the big leagues who has played with the same injury. He said I’ll have to figure out for myself how to maximize the strength and stability in the wrist.

“I had to change bat models a bunch of times,’’ he said. “I had to make adjustments with my swing. You’re definitely not going to be what you remember being.’’

I’ll rehab for the next few weeks then I’ll see where I am. I want to be sure that when I come in as a pinch-hitter, I can get to a heater, that I can go to my backhand and not have my glove do something funny.

I rejoined the team in St. Louis in time to see Aubrey hit his three home runs. It’s always cool when you get a chance to see something like that.

I know he was feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders after scuffling for the first two months. I’m sure those home runs had to feel unbelievable for him. And we need him.

It’s been fun to have an infusion of new guys from the minors. They always bring a lot of energy into the clubhouse. They’re so excited to be here, and they’re so eager to pick your brain and talk to you.

In the dugout the other day, Darren Ford was talking about stealing bases and asked what I’m thinking when I get to first after a hit. I had to laugh. Stealing has never been a part of my game, so basically I’m thinking, “Nice hit. Take your lead and hope the next guy drives the ball into the gap.’’

He’s the complete opposite. He’s reading leg kicks and slide steps and studying the catcher and calculating times. The thing that’s impressive about him is that everyone in the entire park knows he’s going. And he still steals the base. There aren’t too many people in the world who can get around the bases like that. He runs with an attitude on him. He’s coming around third with a purpose. Once he figures out what works for him offensively, he is going to be unbelievable. I told him just to keep doing what he’s doing and it will all come together.

I’ve loved watching Brandon Crawford. You could tell in spring training that he was smooth. When I was back in Georgia, I watched every inning of every Giants games, and I jumped off the couch when he hit that grand slam.

That’s one of the nice things about Crawford and the other young guys being in big-league camp. When they’re called up, we know what kind of kids they are. We know what they’re about. It’s an easier transition than just shooting up here and no one’s ever met you.

But it’s weird to walk into the clubhouse and not see Buster. I texted him and told him I’m thinking about him and to call if he needed to vent. He just needs to take his time and heal completely. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. We know as a team we can’t replace him. He’s a special talent. But we’re all competitors, so you move on. You have to. There is no other option. When Buster comes back next year, it will be a breath of fresh air. But until then, we have to find ways to win. And we are.

 

I like reading your comments and questions, so keep them coming.

-Mark

 

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