Scenes from Spring Training: The Giants are relaxed

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I got here just as the Giants’ clubhouse was opening.  What it lacks in luxury compare to the Diamondbacks’ palace out at Salt River, it makes up for in tranquility.  Bruce Bochy doesn’t need to bring in Navy Seals to teach the Giants how to deal with it. They’ve dealt with it.  They’re the champs and they know it.  Random observations:

Brian Wilson walked into the clubhouse right behind me. He was drinking a Starbucks and holding a folded USA Today.  I would have expected absinthe and some anarchist tract. Either his carrying of the symbols of the corporate bourgeoisie are part of an ironic put-on or else he’s not quite the loose cannon he pretends to be.

But don’t worry: Wilson was later seen giving an interview to a print reporter, sitting on a metal bleacher seat in a still-chilly stadium while wearing his underwear and t-shirt, so he’s still wacky.

The lineup had just been posted on the bulletin board. Miguel Tejada (batting third) and Travis Ishikawa (batting ninth) were looking at it. Ishikawa to Tejada: “Third? I thought that was for the best hitter on the team. What are you doing hitting third?”  Tejada to Ishikawa:”Not hitting ninth.”

It’s been written several times already, but seeing Pablo Sandoval up close really brings home how much damn weight he has lost.  He doesn’t merely look good for a fat guy. He looks good. And it’s not just fat. His shoulders and arms are fairly awesome. And it may or may not be worth noting that he love, love, loves to sing aloud and dance some to his iPod.

Tim Lincecum is starting today. He came in with a pony tail, wearing a vaguely Asian-looking sweatsuit/pajama thing and carrying an iPad in a battered leather holder. It was all very zen. How anyone’s iPad holder can be as battered as his so soon in the product’s life is a mystery to me. I can’t decide if Lincecum takes it rock climbing or if he pays a premium to some trendy boutique that pre-weathers iPad holders for well-heeled customers.

    A TV was on in the little room where players were eating breakfast. A report of Adam Wainwright’s Tommy John surgery came on.  Players watched the report silently. There was no singing and celebration. I just thought I’d get out in front of that one in case Hal McCoy is hanging around here and heard it differently than I did.
    For reasons I can’t really explain I watched Barry Zito stretching on the field. I feel obligated to note that he seems able to stretch his arm and shoulder way more than the other players can. This is important. This means something.

The best thing of all this morning? The grills are fired up here in the ballpark.  Beer is being dispensed. There’s a mediocre cover band committing atrocities of 1970s classic rock hits out on the concourse. It’s on, babies. A real baseball game between two teams.  In a little bit over an hour, pitches will be thrown in anger.

And all is right with the world.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.