He’s the only one they’ve ever trusted. From Fresno, anyway. No, they haven’t trusted him with two uninterrupted months of playing time, but Nate Schierholtz is still here. And even though he’s the Giant who grew up closest to AT&T Park, and Candlestick Park for that matter, his story has been somewhat forgotten.
It’s been a joyful season, especially the last three months, but Schierholtz’s second half would’ve sent many to the brink. It got a little dusty in the dugout for Schierholtz during his postgame interview with Amy G. tonight, and it’s hard to pinpoint what the almost-tears were coming from. Because here’s what’s happened this season for Schierholtz:
1. After being deemed the starting right fielder going into spring training, Schierholtz fell behind John Bowker and didn’t start his first game until April 17.
2. After taking over the job and going 5-for-5 against the Phillies on April 28 (which put him at .378/.440/.556), he went 37-for-176 until tonight (.210/.276/.324).
3. In the middle of the worst hitting period in his life (and in part because of it), Schierholtz had to deal with the acquisitions of Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Cody Ross, along with Bruce Bochy’s stubborn refusal to admit that Aaron Rowand’s only slightly more useful to this team than Edgardo Alfonso is…currently.
I’d list the thing that gave him the most grief, but you already know what that was. It’s not easy to deal with familial strife and uncertainty in your career at the same time, and that’s been Schierholtz’s life for the better half of this season. And just like he proved himself when he came back from getting buried under Bowker, it shows a lot that in the most difficult time of his baseball life, he was able to focus on keeping it simple. Go up the middle.
It’s a no-brainer for Schierholtz, really. Even though everyone in the world, especially Schierholtz himself, wishes he’d hit more home runs, he’s not going to accomplish that by trying to turn on balls and lift them into the right field stands. That only leads to grounders to first and second base for Nate, who’s strong enough that he’ll hit some 425-foot homers without trying. But if he tries, he’s going to only disappoint.
There’s a reason why the Giants haven’t given up on Schierholtz the way they’ve cut bait with Dan Ortmeier, Damon Minor, Fred Lewis, Kevin Frandsen, John Bowker and countless others. And it’s not just the gawdy UZR/150. I just hope this isn’t Nate’s pinnacle moment as a Giant, the last great thing that happens to him in the baseball world until he becomes and Oriole and makes three straight All-Star teams.
Let’s not forget Jonathan, either…
— But first … JAZZ HANDS!
— Is it safe to say Juan Uribe is the Charles Oakley of the San Francisco Giants?
— Someone needs to send Alfonso Soriano a nice fruit basket, or perhaps some fine shaving products from the people at Kiehl’s.
— But first, Brian Wilson. Five outs, really? If this is what it’s like against the Diamondbacks, how long will Bruce Bochy expect Wilson to pitch if the Giants, you know, play games after Sunday? 9-out saves? 12, if Zito’s pitching?
— Am I the only one who thinks Mike Fontenot and Cole Kuiper (Duane’s son) could pretend to be twins? No? How about if we’re they’re both in the same room with the lights real low?
— Sorry, that last comment was just weird. But coincidentally, the announcers spent a good part of the postgame rap comparing Smooth to Fontenot.
— More accurate Fontenot comparison: the 2010 Mark Lemke. Quietly one of the best moves Sabean made this summer.
— Cool storylines that may get forgotten: Pablo Sandoval crushing the double that lead to the lead run; Andres Torres gutting through the pain (although he did suffer his 9th strikeout hat-trick since July 6); Ramon Ramirez solidifying his spot as the most pleasant bullpen surprise of the year. And oh, don’t I love me some bullpen surprise.
— I love how Giants fans are so unfamiliar with good left-handed starters with good stuff (or they just forgot Shawn Estes) that they’re surprised when Jonathan Sanchez walks 4 guys in 6 innings. He’s a mercurial lefty. He’ll look like the best pitcher in the NL for three straight starts, then he’ll walk a few guys. It’s really no big deal.
— You want a horrifying image to keep in your head for the rest of the day/night? Try Tim Lincecum with Wilson’s beard.