Feb. 9, 2010GIANTS PAGE
A few leftovers from the whirlwind of interviews we conducted Friday and Saturday at AT&T Park ... The parade of players that came through the temporary Comcast SportsNet Bay Area studio at AT&T Park started Friday morning with Tim Lincecum and ended Saturday afternoon with Pablo Sandoval. Nice bookends, I thought. I blogged this Friday, but it bears repeating in the wake of his performance on one of the Q&A stages at FanFest: Jeremy Affeldt is the most underrated character in Bay Area sports. Theres definitely a serious side to him, as evidenced by his Twitter account and the Jeremy Affeldt Foundation, but man, is this cat funny. With fellow reliever Brandon Medders serving as the not-so-straight man, Affeldt basically did an hour of impromptu standup and slayed. Bruce Bochy can be awfully boring before and after games, but to listen to him speak in a more casual and relaxed environment is to realize that your general perception of him might be off. Slingblade breaking down the sixth-inning double switch before a day game after a night game? Ill pass. Bochy unplugged, just talking ball? Count me in. You dont stay in the game at this level for this long without having a thing or two to teach the whippersnappers. Needless to say, Operation Panda was a hot topic with everyone. The general consensus: Good to get out in front of the problem early. Unspoken: Also good to get in front of it publicly. Granted, Sandoval is the baseball equivalent of Charles Barkley in that he can do things that other people his size simply cannot, but now that his weight is something of a public issue, he knows hell be held more accountable than ever. Sandoval looked about the same to me as he did last year. Maybe hes lost a few pounds; who really knows? He hasnt lost any swagger, thats for sure. He rolled into our room with shades atop his faux-hawk and dressed like he was on his way for MTV-Italys TRL. Was surprised to be a tad nervous before we started. Ive been talking to professional athletes for 19 years, and Im either friends or friendly with many of the players scheduled to come in. Why be nervous? Probably because Id never encountered quite this kind of setting as a writer: two chairs, about five feet apart, facing each other in a dark room, a camera and bright, hot lights pointed squarely at each mug. Unsettling, to say the least. Unlike Madison Bumgarner, who told me he was nervous something awful before his big-league debut and that the nerves never really went away, I got over my rookie jitters pretty quickly. It helped not having 35,000 people scrutinizing my every move. Asked about the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Bochy made no bones about it: Bumgarner is the guy. Asked about right field, he spoke of competition between Nate Schierholtz, John Bowker and others. A day later, Bowker and Schierholtz spoke at length about the competition and the difficulty of playing the position at AT&T Park. Elsewhere on that same day, Brian Sabean said the team sees Bowker as a left fielder. Nobody sees Sandoval as a shortstop, but I bet he could do it. Buster Posey, infielder. You might want to start getting used to that. It could happen. Soon. Wait, you mean more than 35,000 people are probably going to see those interviews at some point? Oh, no. Now Im nervous again.-- Mychael Urban
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