SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It's post workout, about 1 p.m.
A few Giants are taking batting practice and manager Bruce Bochy walks off the field and settles his huge body onto the dugout bench for his daily media briefing. He answers questions from the beat writers on various topics: how well some young pitchers I never heard of are throwing, how Angel Pagan's back seized up on him — I think it's Pagan, my mind is drifting — how Bochy doesn't want to name his pitching rotation for spring games just yet. “I don't want to screw that up,” he says.
After one long, painful silence, Bochy announces “OK,” which means “I'm outta here.” I touch his arm. I am sitting next to him on the bench.
“Could you stay for one minute?” I ask. “I've got a question.”
He looks surprised. It's almost impossible to know what's going on in Bochy's head, his demeanor is always the same. He never uses my name, so I don't know what he thinks of me. Well, he once said “Lowell” last season and I almost fell over. He's an old-style manager and he reserves proper nouns for the beat writers who are there every day. A pecking order.
For whatever reason, he remains seated.
“When you were a catcher,” I say, “did you talk to batters when you were behind the plate?
“Sometimes.” He's not looking at me, although our shoulders are almost touching. He's staring at the outfield.
“What would you say?”
“It depends on if you had a relationship with the batter. If he's a good friend, I may say something. Never much. If I didn't know the hitter, rarely did I ever talk to him. But if it was somebody I knew, I'd say something about his family, how he's been. 'Cause he's a friend. If I didn't know the opposing player, I tried not to say anything. And I believe it's overdone a little today (friendly talking). I mean, you're on opposing teams. Why not keep an edge? You're here to play each other and try to win that game. It's not about you trying to make a conversation with that hitter.”