Hypnotist helps Giants manager kick nasty habit

507652.jpg

Hypnotist helps Giants manager kick nasty habit

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 8, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ask Bruce Bochy if he has a dip and San Francisco's skipper offers up a standard response: "I don't do that anymore." Bullpen catcher Bill Hayes answers the same way. Equipment manager Mike Murphy, too. They've reached this point because of hypnotherapist Dr. AlVera Paxson, who is developing quite the reputation for helping the reigning World Series champion Giants kick some nasty, decades-old habits. Bochy hasn't touched chewing tobacco since April 14, the night before seeing Paxson during his team's first road trip to Arizona. Hayes has gone without since Jan. 26. It's two years down for Murphy. No carrying around those little tobacco cans for these three any longer. Bochy had his doubts when Hayes told him in spring training this year that he had stopped dipping at last following one thorough session with Paxson, a medical hypnotherapist. Hayes succeeded after Paxson already had aided Murphy in stopping. She also worked with Murphy's wife, Carole, to help her quit smoking. "I'm a believer," said Murphy, who joined the Giants as a bat boy when the franchise moved West in 1958. "It's been the best 300 I ever spent," Hayes said. "It's weird to see how it works." Bochy agrees. He already would have spent well more than 300 on dip by this point in the season, he said. Still, Bochy -- a skeptic on these sorts of things -- had to see for himself if he could finally kick his nearly 40-year pattern of dipping before and after games and several times during the course of nine innings. He did it in the first, fifth and eighth innings. That had been his routine for years, a go-to stress reliever to deal with the pressures of a 162-game season. When he left Paxson's office, minus his own 300 investment, Bochy headed straight to Chase Field for a game against the Diamondbacks. He arrived in the clubhouse and didn't want a dip. The game started and there were no cravings. He has handled the occasional urges ever since. "It was really strange," Bochy said. "There are so many triggers that you have that make you want to put a dip in. The following day, I did have an urge, not a real strong one. I said, 'OK, I've had my day off, now it's time to put one in.'" But he didn't do it. "The next game I did have an urge. The next two to three days I still had an urge, but it just wasn't as strong as other times I've tried to quit," he said. "When I got past the fourth or fifth day, I was over it. I didn't crave it. I didn't want it. I was fine." Bochy spent 3 hours in a relaxed, near-sleep state under Paxson's guidance. She talks constantly as she walks around the room. While Hayes had his eyes closed, per Paxson's instructions, he recalled that the strongest direction about quitting came as she spoke instructions and Hayes heard sounds resembling a stack of magazines emphatically being thrown to the ground, one by one. Both Bochy and Hayes were asked to sit all the way back in a recliner. They gave Paxson signals they could hear her by moving a foot or finger. Each brought along a can of chew and Paxson proceeded to educate them about all the ingredients they were putting in their bodies -- make that lower lips. "It's pretty disgusting in a year's time how much nicotine you put in your body," Bochy said. Education is Paxson's first order of business when a patient arrives. She explains the conscious and subconscious minds. "People were not born chewing tobacco," Paxson said in a telephone interview from Arizona. "Your mind knows how to not do something more than you know how to do something." Not that it's quite that simple. Last year, Bochy tried Nicorette gum and an array of different non-tobacco, herbal dips. He made it about a month, then hit hard times and fell back into his old dipping ways. The 56-year-old Bochy tried his first dip at 18. He was playing in a summer league in Virginia, and his roommate from North Carolina chewed every day. Even he didn't know if he could give it up. "There's an unknown factor when you see a hypnotist," Bochy said. "You haven't been there, so I didn't know what to expect. It shocked me." Bochy admits the stress of his team's recent struggles -- the reigning World Series champions had lost eight of 10 heading into Monday night's home game with Pittsburgh -- has had him considering "changing up the look and putting one in." But Paxson doesn't think Bochy will break down and actually do it. The 70-year-old Paxson has been doing this for 30 years. "It's an awesome thing," she said. "Once you know how to work with your mind and body, it's easy. Once you know how to do that, you can do almost anything." Not that the rest of the Giants are necessarily convinced. They razz Hayes because he has been seen smoking the occasional cigarette or cigar, or using the imitation snuff since seeing Paxson. "Follow my finger. Do not smoke," joked bench coach Ron Wotus, waving his pointer finger in a tick-tock motion. "You're cured. Next! ... A hypnotist, come on. Good for them. The mind is a powerful thing." Reliever Jeremy Affeldt isn't yet a believer, either. "That's what they all say (that it works). I don't buy it," Affeldt said. "Boch is holding up pretty good, though I don't see him behind closed doors if he's putting something in his lip. I don't plan on seeing (a hypnotist). I'd like to keep control of my own thoughts." Yet Kim Bochy is beginning to let herself believe that her husband might be done dipping for good. He has gone longer stretches before in an effort to quit, but not midseason like this. "I told Bruce: 'This is a true test. If you can actually do this during the baseball season and stop, that's phenomenal,'" Kim Bochy said. "He has quit so many times before but always at the end of the season or going into spring training. And, the whole game thing (arrives) and he'd go right back into it. I was amazed he was going to try it in the middle of the season. It's worked. It's a good thing."

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.” 

NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

Four days after avenging one of their six losses, the Warriors get another chance for revenge on an opponent that knocked them off last month.

This time, it’s the Rockets, who greet the Warriors Friday night at Toyota Center. After evening their season series with the Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors will seek to do the same in Houston.

The Warriors (36-6) have won five in a row, averaging nearly 120 points per game behind a more aggressive Stephen Curry.

The Rockets (33-12) have been the surprise team of the league this season. Generally projected to win between 42 and 48 games, they are on pace to win 60.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: In his first season as an officially designated point guard Harden has been playing at MVP level. He leads the league in assists and has been a top-3 scorer all season. Thompson’s defense is not as consistently solid as in previous seasons. He knows Harden well, dating back to their days as prep stars in Southern California and fully understands he’ll have to bring his best, while also getting help from his teammates.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) is listed as questionable.

LAST 10

Warriors: 9-1. Rockets: 7-3.

SERIES HISTORY

The Rockets prevailed in the first meeting this season, 132-127 in double overtime, on Dec. 1, but the Warriors have won nine of the last 12 overall. The Warriors have won the last four meetings in Houston.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE FIREWORKS: The Warriors and Rockets rank 1-2 in points and also true-shooting percentage. Houston launches a league-high 40 3-pointers per game. The Warriors, at 30.6, are tied for fifth. If the clubs stay true to form, that’s 71 triples. Don’t go near the scoreboard unless you want to get burned.

THE GIVEAWAYS: Insofar as both teams tend to give it up -- only four teams commit more turnovers than these two -- they could offset each other here. Both fire threes in transition. The crucial element is live-ball turnovers, as a decided advantage goes to the team that exploits them best.

THE BENCHES: Over the last 10 games, Shaun Livingston is shooting 66 percent and Andre Iguodala is at 63.6. They will need to continue their offensive efficiency to overcome the loss of David West while also neutralizing Sixth Man of the Year leader Eric Gordon, who leads the league in 3-pointers.