Ron Wotus Has A Handshake For Every Giant Homer

The San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball. Not widely regarded as a preseason favorite to make the playoffs, they were the...


The San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball. Not widely regarded as a preseason favorite to make the playoffs, they were the first team to score 80 wins this season and, as of Friday, they were on track to win 105 games.

They accomplished this with a diverse cast of characters, from key contributors in their mid-thirties (like wide receiver Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford) to lesser-known players enjoying career seasons (Kevin Gausman and Tyler Rogers). to the youngest piercing (utility LaMonte Wade Jr. and starting pitcher Logan Webb).

Much of their success has come in a fairly typical fashion, with the Giants leading the majors in the circuits. But even that is something of a special accomplishment, not just because their home stadium, Oracle Park, has always been one of the hardest to hit balls over the wall, but also because they only have one player with 20 homers (outfielder Mike Yastrzemski).

Rather than getting their home run production from a few beefy hitters, like the team has done with Barry Bonds or Matt Williams in the past, the Giants collect back and forth from a legion of solid hitters. On Friday, they had nine players leading the major leagues with double-digit home run totals.

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

From his perspective on the field, Wotus, the longest-serving starting coach in franchise history, has seen the Giants send 195 balls into the outfield seats this season. And as the players run around third base, Wotus greets them with a high-five, punch, or sometimes a much more elaborate move.

“Love it,” said Wotus, 60, who is in his 24th season on the Giants’ major league staff and has been the bench coach of their 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series winning teams before. to return to his old house in third place. base in 2018. “I’d rather worry about the handshake I’m doing than having to send a guy home with one more arm in the outfield and the game in play. It made it easier for me.

Because the Giants have so many hometown players, Wotus had quite a few routines to memorize. Most of the time, he comes up with one organically based on a player’s personality. But sometimes it requires a bit of direction from the player.

After first baseman and outfielder Darin Ruf joined the Giants last season, Wotus said they struggled with their trade. They tried a high-five, then a low-five, until they finally decided to clap the hands.

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

Ruf, 35, is an example of the type of unrecognized player who flourished for this year’s Giants. The former Philadelphia Phillies prospect eventually found himself in a three-season run in South Korea, then signed a minor league deal with the Giants ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Under Farhan Zaïdi, Giants president of baseball operations, the team likes to capitalize on player strengths and face off against an opponent, so Ruf has found playing time at first base, left field and right. He was hitting .274 with 14 homers and a best percentage of .941 on basis plus a hit percentage in 95 games through Friday.

Players like Ruf and Wade Jr. – who missed brief stints with the Minnesota Twins before being traded to San Francisco and who have now crushed 17 home runs due to swing changes – are part of the reason for the increase in home runs. of the Giants. Another likely factor is a series of modifications to the dimensions Oracle Park ahead of the 2020 season. (The central field wall, for example, has been moved to 391 feet instead of 399 to make room for the reliever pens that were once located in foul territory.)

It also helped the team’s star players return to form. Posey, 34, the longest-serving giant in office, is back after retiring from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. And Crawford, 34, a skillful outfielder, turned a swing that scored too many takedowns in 2019 and 2020 into a swing that produced the highest flyball and home run rates of his career.

The major league record for most home runs per season – set by the Minnesota Twins in 2019 with 307 – is unlikely to be threatened by these Giants, or any other team this season. The ball used in previous years, when home run records were apparently broken every season, is no longer in use after many complaints on its inconsistencies. But the Giants are set to break their own franchise record of 235 home runs, set by Bonds and his teammates in 2001, before MLB tested steroids.

Power in the roster is a change for the Giants, whose World Series titles were fueled more by solid defense and pitching than offense. This season, Wotus said, the team have been successful in finding ways to get the most out of their players.

“Most of the players Farhan brought in already had a discipline at home,” he said. “That’s what they’re looking for – people with a good eye on the plate. And it was about adjusting their swings to maybe help them get the most out of it.

Wotus has known Posey, Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt for so long – the trio of players won the 2012 and 2014 World Series together – that there is no question of what he will do when they pass him at third base. For Crawford (19 homers), Wotus slaps the waist high and says, “Here we go! – a fairly routine celebration for a player who, according to Wotus, is “still in control”. For Posey (15 homers), Wotus helps out but with less spice, because Posey is the kind of player who “when he does something, it’s like he has already done it”.

And for the 6-foot-3, 230-pound (19 home) belt, Wotus said, “He’s a big boy, so I put my fist up and he hits the hammer.”

Name the rest of the Giants’ home run hitters and Wotus rolls the salutes instantly. Yastrzemski likes knuckles above the head. Third baseman Evan Longoria, whom Wotus calls “an old pro”, loves the traditional “handshake your dad taught you”. Left fielder Alex Dickerson enjoys a simple high-five.

“I tried to drop five with 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. slaps his hand as hard as he can (“all the way down”) as hard as he can and yells, “Let’s go, Wo! Everytime. Wade Jr. said it only took four or five home runs for Wotus to figure out what he liked.

“He’s so good, and he’s got a good brain that he memorizes them all,” said Wade Jr., 27, later adding, “If we make him work, it’s because we score points and I’m all for it. “

Second baseman Donovan Solano, a religious man, points skyward as he runs, just like Wotus. Infielder Mauricio Dubon likes to jump for a high-five. Kris Bryant, the slugger acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the July 30 trade deadline, has made 24 shots this season but only six with the Giants and he likes a quick, tense slap.

The most unusual celebration, however, comes from infielder Wilmer Flores, who has 16 home runs. He likes to clench his fist with his right hand and hold it like hitting someone in the stomach. Wotus does it too. “Of course we miss each other,” he said.

The reason? Flores, 30, said they made it up last season, his first with the Giants, but he never explained it to Wotus. Flores, a right-handed hitter, said it represented the full extension of the lower hand on his swing, the type of movement that sends balls into the stands.

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

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Newsrust - US Top News: Ron Wotus Has A Handshake For Every Giant Homer
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