Urban: Beltran doesn't change Giants formula

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Urban: Beltran doesn't change Giants formula

July 28, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

PHILADELPHIA -- We're at three books and counting on the 2010 Giants, and if the 2011 Giants scale similar heights, expect to see five or six more.None of them will include a storybook first game for Carlos Beltran, but Beltran's first day in orange and black worked out quite well for all involved nonetheless.Beltran likely made a terrific first impression on Giants fan during his introductory press conference in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park, at one point trying to cease the incessant Phillies-related queries by admonishing in full smirk, "This is not about the Phillies." Later he joked that all he needed to know from Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who gave up uniform No. 15 for his new All-Star outfielder, was whether he wanted diamonds on his compensatory watch or not.

Bochy insisted he didn't want a watch, and that had to strike a solid chord with his club's fans, too.Watch? No, Bochy's body language suggested. Wrist bling's not my thing. Help me get another one of these rings, though, and we're square.RECAP: Lincecum shuts down Phillies; Giants take series
And it's in that vein that Beltran's 0-for-4 debut with the Giants can be considered a rousing success. Last year and this, the club has succeeded not because one particular player has carried a massive load but because everyone chips in here and there on the way to a win, and the win -- not individual glory or stats -- is all that ever matters.So something seemed fitting that despite Beltran's quiet night at the plate, he chipped in with a nice sliding catch in right field and the Giants picked up an awfully big win, 4-1, to secure the series victory in the finale of a three-game set against virtually everyone's "best team in the National League."Side note on that sliding catch: Think Giants GM Brian Sabean didn't swallow his tongue a tad when Beltran's right knee slammed hard into the turf, unearthing a pair of divots the size of Rhode Island? Even Tim Lincecum, who pitched a masterful six shutout innings, struck a pose of grave concern in the immediate aftermath, as if to say, "Dude, appreciate the effort, but go easy on those creaky things."Two days removed from a bout of food poisoning, Lincecum was anything but easy on the Phillies, battling through a muggy evening at less than full strength with six innings of frequent genius. In scattering three hits and four walks while striking out six, he picked up his ninth win and dropped his ERA to 2.78.And on the day the Giants welcomed the legitimate power threat they've lacked all season, Pablo Sandoval celebrated by becoming the first player who's been with the team all year to reach 10 homers.Does Beltran deserve any credit for that? Not really. But if you were down on the field during batting practice, you felt a palpable sense of excitement emanating from all Giants, and given that the Phillies wanted Beltran as much as the Giants, you're safe to assume the opposite effect was going down in the home dugout all night.The bottom line in this business is winning, and the Giants won again to take the series, two games to one.Beltran didn't have much to do with it, but isn't that almost a good sign?
His time will come soon enough. Book it.

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

ANAHEIM — As Yonder Alonso was preparing for the 2017 season last winter, he was tackling another challenge too.

Over the course of three months, the A’s first baseman gathered his thoughts and pieced together a fascinating first-person account for The Players’ Tribune about his childhood experience defecting from Cuba with his parents and younger sister.

Alonso framed the article as him penning a letter to his 8-year-old self, describing the grueling struggle he and his family would go through while reassuring his younger self that it would all be worth it when he finally made it as a major leaguer. Alonso describes in vivid detail the hardships he went through, caring for his sister, Yainee, at night as they dined on meals of microwaved hot dogs and microwaved eggs, while his parents were away from home working multiple jobs to support their family.

Alonso goes on to describe how he would return from college baseball road trips, while he was attending the University of Miami, and immediately head to a night job to help his father clean warehouses and scrub bathrooms.

The story struck a chord within the A’s clubhouse but also among so many people from the Miami area, where Alonso’s family settled after they defected. Alonso said he’s received text messages from many of them.

“I think everybody in this locker room, or any locker room, they definitely have a story to tell,” Alonso said. “And I think it’s awesome when you see a guy just kind of open up a little bit. I’m (usually) not one to open up.”

Athletes are used to reporters peppering them with questions and trying to draw stories out of them. Seldom do athletes take to penning their own story.

Representatives from The Players’ Tribune, an online publication started by Derek Jeter in 2014, reached out to Alonso in early December about writing something. Alonso had a trip planned to Cuba for later that month, before any request for an article came, and his return visit to his native country helped persuade him to go through with it.

“I saw a lot of people,” he said. “For me it was very touching. For my wife as well.”

Alonso met with an editor from The Players’ Tribune during spring training, and they began hashing out ideas. Alonso said he wrote the story himself with assistance from the editor.

“We had ideas, different ways of going about it,” he said. “I think from day one I knew the way I wanted to write it and how I wanted it to come out, which is a letter to my younger self.”

Even after finishing the project three weeks ago, Alonso said he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it publicly. He showed the article to some friends and teammates, including A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and outfielder Matt Joyce. After reading the piece, Joyce strongly persuaded Alonso to carry through with it.

“I told him it was awesome,” Joyce said. “From my perspective, you don’t really get a good sense of what those guys go through, coming over to the States. You just see them later. So to kind of read it in his own words, it was a really cool perspective and a good story to see what a kid across the water, from a different country, goes through to get to this point. I think it’s a very powerful story and message.”

Alonso said his motivation was simple.

“Just letting my family know, and people in this world know, that if you want to strive for something, it can be tough at times. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Programming note: Dodgers-Giants coverage starts today at 11:30am with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Dave Roberts and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series finale at AT&T Park:

Dodgers (10-12)
1. Enrique Hernandez (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Scott Van Slyke (R) 1B
8. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
9. Julio Urias (L) P

Giants (8-14) 
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Moore (L) P (1-3, 5.87 ERA)