He’s as cool as an evening at AT&T Park, as reliable as the Pacific tide. Bruce Bochy is a motivator, a moderator, and it should be apparent, one of the finest managers in baseball. He is someone with a relentless confidence in his players and a deep understanding of baseball.
He doesn’t throw tantrums, but on occasion, will throw caution to those San Francisco winds. He never embarrasses an athlete, a journalist or the game, although he did go after Jonathan Sanchez’s lack of focus.
And he doesn’t complain about expectations or injuries, ready-made excuses. Except for someone who doesn’t seek them.
That the Giants were a half-game out of first place as of Wednesday morning, that they had won four in a row, three in their last at-bat — OK, walk-off victories if you insist — is no less attributable to Bochy, their leader, than to Cody Ross, their spark of late. Or to any other person in the dugout.
“He’s the most understated, underrated manager in baseball,” his boss, GM Brian Sabean told a reporter about Bochy during last fall’s playoffs. “This guy is aces.”
This guy is unflappable. What about Miguel Tejada, Bruce? He’s hitting below .200? “We haven’t lost confidence in him,” Bochy said. “Players find their game. It’s always been like that.”
This guy is insightful. Asked before Tuesday’s game why the Giants, having activated Mark DeRosa and Andres Torres, sent Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Rohlinger to Fresno and kept Darren Ford, there was a logical answer.
“Ford’s speed,” explained Bochy quietly. “He gives us another weapon. We play a lot of close games.”
A few hours later, in the bottom of the ninth against the Diamondbacks, Ford pinch ran for Buster Posey, who had walked, stole second and scored the game’s only run on Ross’ single.
“It was nice to have him sitting there waiting for someone to get on base,” Bochy said of Ford.
For the Giants, it’s nice to have 55-year-old Bruce Bochy sitting there. He knows even a great team is still going to lose one game out of every three. He knows some nights your best isn’t quite good enough. Tuesday, Tim Lincecum pitched eight innings, didn’t allow a run and got nothing for it, other than nine strikeouts.
“This guy, they’ve got going,” Bochy had said of Arizona starter Ian Kennedy, “is awfully good.” He was just as good as Lincecum — no runs, four hits and eight strikeouts in eight innings.
“Great pitching on both sides,” affirmed Bochy, “but we get a stolen base and the big hit. Cody has won three games for us. I don’t know if it’s magic, but these guys are used to playing these types of close games.”
Once those games are over, Bochy thinks about the future. “I don’t believe in dwelling on yesterday,” he pointed out.
In baseball there’s always tomorrow, as Bochy is well aware. He changes lineups constantly. Aubrey Huff is out one day, Pat Burrell another. Mike Fontenot has been excellent at short, but Tejada will move in for a while, with DeRosa at third.
“We’ve got to keep everybody involved,” said Bochy, who never is uninvolved. “I don’t want anybody sitting too long.”
To quote Brian Sabean, this guy is aces.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.