Giants manager Bruce Bochy talks priorities

Giants manager Bruce Bochy talks priorities

Dec. 6, 2010
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy made an appearance Monday at baseball's annual winter meetings and addressed a variety of issues,including his shortened-but-busy offseason, his club's top prioritybetween now and spring training, the loss of Juan Uribe, updates onMark DeRosa and Pablo Sandoval, and the departure of sluggers AdrianGonzalez and Mark Reynolds from the National League West.What follows is a transcription of his Q&A session, edited for brevity and clarity. How has the offseason been different for you, having won the World Series?
BRUCE BOCHY: It's been a little busier, to be honest. But a lot ofit has been baseball related. We played into November, so we had a lotof work to do before these meetings. Getting rosters set, talking aboutplayers, needs, things like that. So Brian Sabean, myself, baseballoperations, we've been having some conference calls almost every day.So it's been pretty busy in that respect.Does the euphoria and satisfaction wear off? Is it stillthere every day you think, man, we won the WorldSeries?
BB: There are moments you do try to take a step back and realizewhat just happened. I had a chance to look at the videos, the Giantshighlight videos, a couple nights ago in San Francisco. You know,during those videos you get a chance to enjoy it, savor it. Not quiteas nervous as you were when it was actually happening, but a good timeto sit back and get to watch replay of it. So I have had a chance towatch the games.If you proved anythinglast year, it's that roster construction continues past the wintermeetings. Is that the mindset here this week?
BB: Yeah, we have had a change already. Our shortstop, he went toL.A., so we're still trying to get the guys we need on this roster andget set with that. The great thing about our club is we have a lot ofmovable parts.Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds out of the division today. Does that change anything?
BB: No, it doesn't change anything with us. I mean, they are goodplayers. It is not surprising with Gonzalez. I think there's been talkabout it. Tremendous player. He played for me in San Diego. I knowhim very well. I'll be honest, it's not sad to see him leave thedivision. I'm happy for him with his new deal, and he's going to helpBoston. Reynolds is another great player that will help Baltimore. Butit doesn't change anything we do. We still have to construct our teamand play in a very tough division.You talk about teams moving on, obviously you guys havemoved on from the shortstop position. How difficult for you was it tolose Uribe, who had lots of big hits and was a trueprofessional?
BB: When you have such a great team to win the World Series,ideally you'd like to keep everybody. What they mean to you, and ashard as you fight during the course of the season and the journey thatyou're on, you become a family. To have Juan move on, sure, initiallyit hurts a little bit. You're going to miss him. He called me. I had aconversation with him, and it's part of the business. He got a greatdeal there in L.A. I'm happy for him. He got three years and he gotwhat he was looking for. But we had to move on, and turns out we signed a really good player inMiguel Tejada, who happened to be available, so that helps us softenthat blow when you lose a player like Juan. So Tejada will be a niceplayer to have. Not just on the field, but in the clubhouse. Verysimilar to Uribe.When did Juan call you?
BB: Actually I talked to him a couple of times before he signed.Called me from the Dominican and just expressed his appreciation forhow he was treated, and had a great time. " He just wanted to thank me.And I said the same to him. Like I said, you understand. It's part ofthe business. He was a free agent, and you're not going to sign themall. Certainly a guy that did a lot for us. We're champions partlybecause of what he did for us."If you had a wish list, would a left-handed bat be on top of your list?
BB: Yeah, that's what we've talked about, if there's a perfectscenario where we could have a left-handed bat. We do have a very goodyoung player coming up, Brandon Belt, who could be that guy. He'll bein spring training. We'll take a look at him. He's similar to AubreyHuff; he can play first, he can play outfield. So that would give ussome flexibility and a left-handed batter if that worked out. But, again, you're looking at what you have. Pablo Sandoval could bethat bat that we didn't have last year. We are hoping he comes back andbecomes the player that he was the year before.Where did Belt play most of the fall?
BB: First base. But he is a pretty good outfielder, from my reports, the times he's been out there.Does it have to be a power bat or can it be like a high average type?
BB: Really either way. I don't think it so much has to be a powerbat. But that would be nice to have. Those guys aren't all over theplace, you know. But we just want to keep a balanced lineup; that'swhat we talked about. At times we felt we were too right-handed lastyear, and it caught up with us at times. We had trouble scoring runs. But with the crew that we have here, whether it's guys coming off thebench, they provided left-handed bats that we needed. Nate Schierholtz,Travis Ishikawa, Mike Fontenot. But, again, we'll see what's availableout there.How wary are you of complacency and maybe counting too muchon Andres Torres and Cody Ross, expecting them to repeat what they didlast season?
BB: Well, it won't be because they're complacent. I understandyou're never, ever more vulnerable to complacency than when you win andyou have a championship season. But you do have to be careful. You dohave the potential to drop your guard. But a guy like Torres, sure, he doesn't have a track record, but some guys emerge later on in theircareer. That's what we're hoping with Andres, he'll come back and bethe player that he was the year before. The other guys have a track record. Cody Ross was a good player beforewe got him, so that wasn't so freakish the fact that he got on a rolland had some base hits. He's done that for a while. That's why he'smaking pretty good money. So when you have guys who have done it, it'sjust like Aubrey Huff. I have people saying, "Wow, what a surprise he was. But he's had some pretty good years."You know what I mean? This guy has swung the bat well, so we feel likewe have guys who have done it, have the experience. But on the otherside getting back to Pablo, now we're hoping he becomes the player thathe was. We did this without Pablo being who we saw the year before.Any reports on how Pablo is doing a month into the offseason?
BB: Just that he's lost some weight. He's doing well. He's workinghard. He's dropped over 10 pounds, so that's good news already. Heseems determined to get back to where he was. He's got a little waysto go. I don't want to put a number on it, but he's still got probably15 or so, somewhere in there.You mentioned that it's easy to get complacent after youwin. Do you approach it a little differently? Have you spoken toanybody, maybe some World Series managers on how they approach theseason after they win?
BB: No, I haven't talked to any of the previous World Serieschampions. But it's something we'll address in spring training. Youknow, we like to think we've raised the bar on how we play the game,and we want to play at that level. You put a stake in the ground andyou're hopefully making a mark. Keep that level of play that you want your guys to play at, and that'sby going out there and playing the game right and playing it hard everyday. I'm confident in the guys that we have. They're not going to getcomplacent. They may lose a game, but it's not because of effort or notbeing prepared already.Considering the innings load of the starting pitchers youhad last year, and pitching so deep in the postseason, might youapproach spring training a little differently with your starters? Maybemake it a little easier on them?
BB: It's hard to take it easy on them because you're getting themready for the season. Now with that said, I'll keep an eye on thesestarters particularly because I'll think about the workload theycarried the year before, and if there are times I can give them abreak, I will. But on the other hand too, my closer (Brian Wilson) carried a prettyheavy workload too. We're going to bring him in. I don't know. I'll sitand see how he's going, how he feels. He's the guy we'll keep an eyeon, too. He's the horse through the season.Could Cody set in the outfield somewhere, or is Pat Burrell penciled into the left field job?
BB: He'll be competing for that position. He's been told that. Weget to spring training and we'll do it pretty much like we did lastyear, and we'll play who our hot bats are or who we think our bestplayers are at that point. We've made some tough decisions, AaronRowand or Nate's going to be looking for more playing time out there.These guys did a great job of setting aside their own agendas lastyear. They'll probably have to do it again this year.Where does DeRosa fit in?
BB: He could be a super utility type guy, and competing for leftfield. He can play left. He can play second, play some third, first. Isee him as a guy that will move around a lot. He's had his best yearsdoing that. He's comfortable doing it. He thrives on it. So he'll bemoving around. ... He's healthy, too. He'll be ready 100 percent comespring training.Out of all the things you've had an opportunity to do as aresult of being a World Series champion, what has been the neatestthing for you?
BB: I really haven't done anything. We've been pretty busy withtalking about other teams and getting prepared for the winter meetings.But right now there hasn't been anything that I can say has changed. Alot more requests and demands. I mean, I'm getting letters fromWisconsin, people that I don't even know who want to know if I'll speakto their Rotary Club. But I haven't done anything.Is there a sense that as long as you've got that pitching and you're inthat ballpark, you're going to be in the thick of it next year andyears to come?
BB: Sure, we feel like that. We felt we could get there. We couldwin the World Series with our pitching. As you well know, that's theeasiest way to get it done, with good pitching. So the hardest partreally, it's all hard, but it's getting there. Can Fontenot play shortstop?
BB: It wouldn't be a long-term deal, but once a week, yeah, he could do it.Is it fair to say that youre still in need of someone whocould fill in there on a longer term if Miguel gothurt?
BB: Yeah, yeah, I think that's one of our priorities is to havesomebody ready to give us depth. We had tremendous success last yearbecause of our depth. Edgar went down, we had Uribe. Freddy struggledand we got Fontenot. As far as bringing Edgar back goes, wedefinitely have interest.

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

Sharks' depth players, Burns, snap cold streaks just in time

SAN JOSE – For at least one night, the Sharks’ depth players – most of which have been missing in action for weeks – found the scoresheet against the Rangers in a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The Sharks were playing their first of what will surely be at least a few games without center Logan Couture, and are still in the hunt for a Pacific Division title with four of their six remaining games against Edmonton and Calgary – teams they are trying to fend off to earn home ice in the first round. And, of course, they ended a wretched six-game losing streak in which they never had a lead in any of the defeats.

Coach Pete DeBoer mentioned earlier in the week that the coaching staff had challenged the depth players to do more, especially now that their second line center is out indefinitely. The response on Tuesday included two goals from Chris Tierney (including a late game-tying score), one goal and one assist from Jannik Hansen, a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson, two assists from Mikkel Boedker, and an assist from Tomas Hertl.

Consider the challenge met.

“We want to score. All the depth guys know, and talked about stepping up,” Tierney said. “It's good that we broke through tonight, especially with Logan out of the lineup. We're going to have to keep doing it throughout the playoffs."

DeBoer said the internal challenge “didn’t involve much more than just ‘Hey, we need some contributions from you.’ We can’t always look to the big guys to get the job done. We got that tonight. Those guys got on the board. It’s never a lack of effort with that group, but we’re the sum of our parts. We need those guys to get on the board for us on a regular basis and they did that tonight.”

It was also surely welcomed that one of their big guys – perhaps their biggest – got the overtime winner. Brent Burns had been mired in a 16-game drought without a goal, but his slap shot got through Henrik Lundqvist half-a-minute into an overtime power play.

While the depth guys will need to continue to produce, the Sharks are going to need more from Burns, too, as the postseason approaches. The defenseman had been kept off of the scoresheet in nine of 10 games from March 5 – 21, but now has one point in each of his last three games. That’s a good sign.

Getting a goal was particularly nice, as was ending the losing skid.

“Yeah on both accounts,” Burns said. “That was a big win, especially coming back, staying resilient, getting that big goal there at the end.”

Still, with all that went right, the game was far from perfect. The Sharks allowed a 3-1 second period lead to turn into a 4-3 deficit in just a span of five minutes and seven seconds, indicating they’re still a bit fragile. Derek Stepan made it 3-2 late in the second with a power play goal, Jesper Fast scored on a deflection early in the third, and J.T. Miller gave New York its first lead of the night less than five minutes into the final frame.

“There’s still room for improvement, definitely,” Joe Pavelski said.

Still, the Sharks fought back for Tierney’s late game-tying goal with less than two minutes in regulation, setting up Burns’ overtime heroics. 

The captain sensed some displeasure from the home fans due to the blown lead, something he surely understood, but indicated that the energy level on the Sharks’ bench was still high.

“Whether you think, like, ‘Here we go again’ or not – I’m sure someone in this building thought that tonight,” Pavelski said. “Guys just kind of stuck with it, and we believed we would tie it up tonight.”

Getting that extra point in overtime brought a sense of relief.

“When you lose six straight, it's obviously a relief when you win one,” Martin Jones said. “But win or lose, we played a lot better tonight.”

 

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

Instant Replay: Sharks rally late, stun Rangers in OT to end skid

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – Despite blowing a two-goal lead, the Sharks found a way to tie their game with the Rangers late and win it in overtime, 5-4, to end their losing streak at six games.

After New York had turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, Chris Tierney knotted the score with just 2:15 left in regulation. Mikkel Boedker’s shot from high in the zone rattled around the slot, and Tierney was there to flip it home for this second of the night.

Brent Burns ended a 16-game goal drought with a power play goal at 3:10 in overtime, overpowering Henrik Lundqvist with a slap shot.

After Tierney had given San Jose a 3-1 lead earlier in the second period the Sharks kept up the pressure, recording seven of the next eight shots. But Patrick Marleau’s interference penalty on Jimmy Vesey gave New York a late power play and turned the game in their favor.

Derek Stepan – who was stopped on a partial breakaway midway through the first period – brought the Rangers back to within 3-2. Mats Zuccarello hummed a seam pass through Justin Braun to Stepan, who had an open net to deposit his 16th of the season in the final minutes of the second period.

In the third, Jesper Fast redirected a Brady Skjei floater at 1:24, tying the game at 3-3. A Burns tripping minor during four-on-four play offered a power play to the Rangers, and they capitalized on a J.T. Miller one-timer at 4:44, his second of the night.

The Sharks remain two points back of Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and are tied with Edmonton for second.

For the first time in eight games the Sharks struck first. A newly configured third line of Tomas Hertl, Boedker and Jannik Hansen scored on its first shift together, as Hansen chopped in a loose puck at 1:44. Boedker and Hertl both got assists, ending pointless streaks of 10 games and 12 games, respectively.

Hansen’s first goal as a Shark also gave the team its first lead in more than two weeks, as it never led throughout its six-game regulation losing streak.

The Rangers tied it at 13:30 of the first on a goal by Miller, who took the puck from Paul Martin along the wall and lifted a perfectly placed wrist shot over Martin Jones’ near shoulder.

Melker Karlsson, returning from an eight-game absence, put the Sharks ahead 2-1 late in the first period with a shorthanded score. He whizzed a wrist shot past countryman Lundqvist at 18:01 while on a two-on-one with Tierney.

Tierney increased the lead to 3-1 in the middle frame, taking a shot from the slot and following up his own rebound at 11:38. It was just his second goal in the last 22 games, and eighth of the year.

The Rangers won the only other game of the season series back on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden, 7-4. The Sharks finished the season with a 21-7-4 mark against Eastern Conference clubs.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture, who is out indefinitely with a facial injury.

Special teams:
Two of New York’s goals came on the power play, on three opportunities. The Sharks are 11-for-15 on the PK in the last six games.

San Jose had just one power play before overtime, failing to score. Karlsson’s marker was his second shorthanded score of the season, and the Sharks’ seventh as a team.

In goal:
After allowing a career high seven goals-against on Saturday in Nashville, Jones made 24 saves on 28 shots.

Lundqvist suffered the loss with 30 saves on 35 shots.

Lineup:
Micheal Haley served a one-game suspension for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday.

Tierney (upper body) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (flu) both returned after missing Saturday’s game with the Predators. Marcus Sorensen came out of the lineup for Kevin Labanc, who was recalled on Tuesday morning and skated on the top line.

New York’s Skjei had three assists.

Up next:
The Sharks have six games remaining in the regular season – two each against Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

A three-game road trip against each of those division rivals begins on Thursday with the Oilers, as the clubs battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and continues on Friday against the Flames and Sunday versus the Canucks.