Ron Wotus Has a Handshake for Every Giant Homer

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The San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball. Not considered preseason favorites to contend for the playoffs, they were the first team to win 80 this season and were on pace to win 105 games by Friday.

They’ve accomplished this with a wide variety of characters, from key players in their mid-30s (such as catcher Buster Posey and short-back Brandon Crawford) to lesser-known players (Kevin Gausman and Tyler Rogers) who have enjoyed their career seasons, to younger players who have achieved success. sidekick LaMonte Wade Jr. and starting shooter Logan Webb).

Much of their success came pretty typical, with the Giants leading the majors in home runs. But even that is an odd feat, only that their stadium, Oracle Park, is traditionally one of the hardest Not only for hitting balls over the wall, but also because they only have one player with 20 hosts (player Mike Yastrzemski).

The Giants are collecting round-trip triggers from a set of solid hitters, rather than getting their own homemade productions from a few powerful sluggers, as the team has done in the past with Barry Bonds or Matt Williams. Going into Friday, they had nine league-leading players with double-digits in home totals.

No one is more aware of this than third base coach Ron Wotus.

Wotus, the longest-serving coach in franchise history, watched from the field’s point of view as the Giants sent 195 balls to the away seats this season. And as the players race around third base, Wotus greets each one with a high five, a punch, or sometimes a much more elaborate gesture.

“I love that,” said Wotus, 60, who is in his 24th season on the Giants’ major league roster and has been a backup coach for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series winning teams before returning to his old home in third. base in 2018. “I’d rather worry about the handshake I’m doing than think about whether I should send a plus-armed guy home and a guy on the game line home. It made my job easier.”

Wotus had a few routines to memorize, as the Giants had so many players battering homers. Oftentimes, it offers an organic offering based on the personality of the players. But sometimes, it requires some direction from the player.

First goalkeeper and outfielder Darin Ruf said after joining the Giants last season, they struggled with the Wotus replacements. They tried to give a high-five, then a high-five, until they finally decided to clap.

“It took us a while to coordinate this,” Wotus said.

Ruf, 35, is an example of the type of unaware player that blossomed for this year’s Giants. The former Philadelphia Phillies contender finally found himself on a three-season run in South Korea, after which he signed a minor league deal with the Giants ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Under Farhan ZaidiAs head of baseball operations for the Giants, the team likes to capitalize on players’ strengths and match-ups against an opponent, so Ruf found playtime in first base, left field and right. He had reached .274 with 14 home runs and .941 team lead at the base plus slowing percentage in 95 games until Friday.

Ruf and Wade Jr., who briefly bounced with the Minnesota Twins before being traded to San Francisco and now crushed 17 away runs due to swing changes. Players like Giants explain some of the increase in home runs. Another possible factor is a series of changes to dimensions Oracle Park before the 2020 season. (For example, the midfield wall was moved from 399 to 391 feet to make room for the bulls that were once in the foul zone.)

He also helped the team’s star players return to form. Posey, 34, the longest-serving Giant, is back after exiting the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic. And Crawford, a resourceful 34-year-old fielder, turned a high-scoring hit in 2019 and 2020 into one that produced career-high flyball and home-run rates.

The major league record for most hosts is one season – Minnesota Twins in 2019 With 307 – unlikely to be threatened by this Giants or any other team this season. The ball used in the previous years, when the host records were broken every season, no longer in use after that many complaints on inconsistencies. But the Giants are on pace to break their own franchise record of 235 homers, set by Bonds and his teammates in 2001, before MLB’s test for steroids.

Strength across the roster is a change for the Giants, who have cemented their World Series titles with strong defense and shooting rather than offense. Wotus said this season the team has managed to find ways to get the most out of their players.

“Most of the players Farhan brought in already had plate discipline,” he said. “That’s what they were looking for – people who see the plate well. And maybe it was a matter of adjusting their oscillations to help them get more.”

Wotus has known Posey, Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt for a long time — triple player won the 2012 and 2014 World Series together – there is no question of what he will do when they pass him in third base. For Crawford (19 home runs), Wotus slaps a belt high and says, “It works!” says. – Pretty routine celebration for an actor that Wotus says is “always in control”. Wotus for Posey (15 homers) kicks by hand, but with less pizazz, because he’s the type of player that “when Posey does something, it’s as if he’s done it before”.

And for the 6-foot-3 230-pound Belt (19 home runs), Wotus said, “He’s a big kid, so I just popped my fist and lowered the hammer.”

Name the rest of the Giants’ home hitters and Wotus’ salutes instantly jingle. Yastrzemski likes to keep the knuckles above the head. Third baseman Evan Longoria, whom Wotus calls “an ex-pro”, likes the traditional handshake “your father taught you”. Left fielder Alex Dickerson loves to give a straight high five.

“I tried to high-five him once and he almost strained his back, so we had to go to the top,” Wotus said with a laugh.

Wotus said that Wade Jr. slammed his hand down (“down”) as hard as he could and said, “Let’s go Wo!” she said she shouted. anytime. Wade Jr. said it only took four or five home runs for Wotus to figure out what he liked.

“He’s very good and has a good brain that memorizes it all,” said Wade Jr., 27, and later added: he.”

Second baseman Donovan Solano a religious man, points to the sky as he runs, and so does Wotus. Infielder Mauricio Dubon loves to jump for a high five. Kris Bryant, the slugger from the Chicago Cubs on the July 30 trade date, has had 24 blasts in the season, but only six with the Giants and loves a quick, outstretched hand slap.

The most extraordinary celebration, though, comes from 16 home fielder Wilmer Flores. He likes to punch with his right hand and stick it out as if punching someone in the stomach. Wotus does too. “Of course we miss each other,” he said.

Reason? Flores, 30, said he first found this out last season with the Giants, but he never revealed that to Wotus. Flores, a right-handed batsman, said his kick represents the full extension of the lower hand, the type of move that sends balls into the stands.

“We do a lot of offense, so you have to do something fun to do at third base,” Flores said with a laugh.

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