Consistency one of Bochy's hallmarks
Manager reflects on championship season, goals for upcoming year
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy was considered one of the top managers in the Major Leagues, given his adept handling of bullpens, his ability to coax maximum production from players and the professionalism his teams displayed.
Then he won two World Series in three years with the San Francisco Giants.
Bochy went from being not only respected, but also canonized. The media rarely questioned his tactics. Fans who considered him dull, due largely to the bass tones and relatively slow cadence of his voice, suddenly considered him a genius.
Perceptions of Bochy have changed, but he hasn't. Consistency is one of his hallmarks. He's essentially the same manager who took over the Giants in 2007 and endured a last-place finish in the National League West. He maintains an even temperament and rarely, if ever, criticizes his players publicly.
Bochy recently addressed the upcoming season, reflected on the World Series-winning 2012 campaign and discussed some general philosophies with MLB.com.
MLB.com: How has this spring differed from 2011 -- the first time you won the World Series?
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Bochy: Really, it's been fairly similar, with the added attention and hoopla and the great fan support that we had in 2011. It's here again and the players feel it. They appreciate it, both here at home and also on the road. We're sold out pretty much every game. Even opposing coaches tell me they're amazed at the number of our fans who come to their ballpark. The biggest difference is, of couse, the World Baseball Classic. We started early and we were missing quite a few of our guys -- I think eight, to be exact -- from our workouts for an extended period of time. It did allow us to play some young guys, get a good look at them and give them some great experience.
MLB.com: Bringing back 21 of the 25 guys from last year's postseason roster -- it might as well be 22, with Andres Torres back -- what has that meant for you?
Bochy: Well, it makes life a lot easier for the coaching staff and myself. When you are able to bring in the same guys who helped you win last year, they know us and we know them. They know what to expect from us and vice versa. As far as the fundamentals and drills, it makes it a lot easier, because they've been through it. We're fortunate, with [general manager Brian Sabean] getting these guys to come back to give us another chance.
MLB.com: Does this team prove that chemistry is not overrated?
Bochy: I know a lot has been said about the chemistry of this club, and I think it's important. It's critical for a team's success, but it's not like we're sitting here singing "Kumbaya" every day. These guys played well together. They cared about each other. As much as chemistry, it's important to play as a team, to have 25 unselfish guys willing to do anything to help the club.
MLB.com: Talking about being unselfish and willing to play as a team, one word that's maybe closely related to chemistry is character. You can look at each player and pick out something about him, personally or professionally, and say, "This guy is solid." How much is that involved in the winning process?
Bochy: Another important and critical element for a team to have success is to have a team that's full of character, because what comes with that is unselfishness and the things it takes to have a winning season. For example, the bullpen by committee that we did last year. Those guys set their egos aside. I'm sure four of five of them wanted to be the guy who closes games; [Santiago] Casilla did it when we made a change there. Then [Sergio] Romo took over. With [Jeremy] Affeldt and [Javier] Lopez, they accepted it, bought into it and that's why we did well. [Marco] Scutaro, when we got him, went to third base. He hadn't been there in three or four years. Tim Lincecum -- for Timmy not to just go to the bullpen but also to have the attitude, "I want to do what's best for the club, help them move on and help them win the World Series" -- that's why I think he did so well at it and I think overall that's why this team had such a great year because we did have a lot of character on this club.
MLB.com: It's a broad question, but what are some of the other things you like about this club?
Bochy: It's a club that I don't think has gotten the credit that it deserves for the talent that's here. Everyone talks about our pitching, but I think this club is loaded with more talent than what's been said about it. We were underdogs last year and in the playoffs, and we're going into the season as underdogs in our division. I understand that, with what happened south and [the Dodgers] increasing their payroll. But when you look at this club with the [Buster] Poseys, [Hunter] Pences, and [Pablo] Sandovals, it's a team loaded with talent. What bothers me sometimes is I hear this word "lucky" and "the ball bounced our way." You don't win 94 games and be lucky. You don't do what we did two of the last three years and be lucky. It takes talent and this team has a lot of talented players.
MLB.com: You like to say that "Success is not final." Can you elaborate on that?
Bochy: In our game, and, really, in all businesses and every sport, there's a new year, a new season, a new race. That's what we have now. Last year was an unbelievable year and I want these guys to always remember and savor those times. But at the same time, this success thing isn't final and we have to go out and do it again and hopefully get back to the postseason. We kid each other that you're only as good as your last game, but that's how you should look at it. Every day you have to go out there and prove it.
MLB.com: Out of curiosity, are you familiar with the entire quotation by Winston Churchill? "Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." That's applicable, too, isn't it?
Bochy: Oh, it is. You have to keep going and move forward. We use that a lot, because in this game, you're going to deal with adversity. You're going to have slumps, skids, injuries or what happened with Melky [Cabrera] last year. You have to focus forward and move on. There's no point in dwelling on what's happened. What's important is how you deal with it.
MLB.com: How addicting is winning?
Bochy: That's what I like about this club now. They're still hungry. It is addicting. Hopefully you get used to it and you don't accept losing or failure. That's what I think separates the average teams from the good or great teams.
MLB.com: The longer you go, the more you get mentioned as a potential Hall of Fame manager. How does that make you feel?
Bochy: I don't think about it, to be honest. I'm humbled when I hear it, but at the same time, I kind of laugh, because it's not something I think should ever be discussed. I don't see that. I love what I do. I'm fortunate to be doing what I'm doing. But that's a place for these great players.
MLB.com: The Giants can't really think in terms of repeating, right? You just have to grind out the season and see where you are at the end of the year.
Bochy: We should go into the season wanting to repeat, but you have to go into every game trying to win it. If you have that approach, you'll be fine at the end of the season. You can't look that far ahead. It's OK to have that vision, but the only way that works is to keep that focus and intensity on a daily basis.
MLB.com: I think a lot of people, mainly baseball people, realize what you've got going here -- a lot of homegrown talent, particularly on the pitching side, and continuity in the front office, the manager's seat and the coaching staff. Do you get the feeling that people appreciate the Giants' approach, and how proud are you of that?
Bochy: I do, and I'm very proud of that. The comments that I get at the Winter Meetings or here at Spring Training, people do appreciate the way we have had our success, with the continuity, as you mentioned, and a lot of homegrown talent -- Posey, Sandoval, Belt, [Matt] Cain, Lincecum, [Brandon] Crawford, Romo. ... I don't want to leave anybody out. And the fact that we're considered a team that uses everything. We have our sabermetrics. We have our baseball operations. We're kind of old-school, but we work well as a team. I'm proud of these players, and I told them on the very first day [of full-squad workouts] that I met with them, they should be proud because of the compliments I get about this club, how they played the game right and they play as a team. That's what we strive for here, the staff, myself and the players.
MLB.com: Offensively, do you think this year's team will have to be similar to last year's -- hitting pitches on a line drive down, avoiding strikeouts, that sort of thing?
Bochy: I think we're going to have to do what we did in the second half. Now, I like home runs, though. I kid the players -- I do remind them I like home runs. But we know who we are and we know what we need to be as a club. And you adapt to your club as a manager. If you have power, you go with power, but we have to create runs any way we can.
MLB.com: I know you prefer not to single out certain players, but with Posey, are we looking at a guy who just might be poised to become one of the all-time greats?
Bochy: I think he's looked at as one of those players now, at a young age. And he should be, with all he's accomplished -- being the catcher who led his team to two World Series, MVP, Rookie of the Year, batting championship. It's amazing what he's accomplished in his brief career, so I do see him as that player who'd going to be considered one of the best, elite players in the game.
MLB.com: From what you've seen and heard about the NL West, do you anticipate another dogfight for the division title?
Bochy: I do. I think this could be the toughest division. A lot has been talked about with L.A. Arizona's a different club, a very good club that won 94 games just two years ago. They have a great pitching staff and a great ballclub. Colorado's healthy; we've seen their lineup this spring and we know how dangerous they are. And if you look at what San Diego did in the second half, they played as well as anybody. This is going to be a very, very tough division. It's not going to be decided until late September.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.