Aubrey Gets Huffy… And Other Thoughts On Media Day

Aubrey Huff

It was a busy Friday for the San Francisco Giants.  In the lead up to spring training, players and coaches were on hand for their annual media day.  Of course I don’t attend media day, so my information is all second-hand.  But I think it’s fair to say that some Giants were happier to be there than others.

Media day is a funny concept.  Team members answer the same questions again and again, all the while trying to sound like they don’t mind a bit. This year, Manager Bruce Bochy told and retold a story of being bonked on his prodigious noggin by a chairlift over the winter, as he tried skiing for the first time.  It’s a good story.  I always appreciate Bochy’s self-deprecation.

As a rule, though, questions are tougher than “How was your off season?”  Infielder Pablo Sandoval seems to have been sized up from head-to-toe by every reporter in attendance, with extra scrutiny paid to his… breadbasket.  He looked as if he be smuggling a few extra baguettes in there, so he was quizzed about his regimen and fitness.  Had he gained or lost weight?   His – and the coaching staff’s — estimates fluctuated between a 10 and 25 pound gain.

Pablo Sandoval

Then there was first baseman Aubrey Huff.  A hero in 2010, he inked a generous 2-year contract in November of that year.  In 2011, some felt he had developed a bad case of ambivalence (“Now I’ve got mine”).  Virtually everyone agreed that he hadn’t shown commitment to his off-season conditioning, and played last season very out of shape.

So naturally, media day saw reporters asking about Huff’s fitness, which was met with a mixture of surliness and braggadocio.  Outlining his regimen, Huff said (unsolicited, I think) that he hadn’t had a beer in six weeks.  I struggle to articulate why this statement puzzles me.  Given his woeful performance last season, perhaps I question if six weeks on the wagon is enough — particularly for an aging athlete who has kids like Brandon Belt nipping at his heels.  It also made me wonder how much he drank during the prior off-season.  Do other players offer specifics about their alcohol consumption to reporters, without being asked?

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain tiptoed through a minefield of questions about their contracts, and their long-term commitment to playing in San Francisco.  As with the fitness/weight gain line of questioning, it must be very unnerving to sit in a room full of virtual strangers who all know your exact salary — especially when you are making upwards of $22 million per year.  At the Town Hall on Friday evening, Brian Sabean made a cringe-worthy joke that Timmy probably needed a wheelbarrow to move his new monIs it any wonder that Timmy hid behind a gray hoodie all day?

Yes, media day can be rough.  (I’m certainly glad I don’t have to answer questions at work about my workout regimen or BMI.)   But it may be hardest for players who no one is particularly interested in speaking with.  I heard next to nothing about Barry Zito after media day, aside from Sabean’s pointed comment that the fifth starting spot is “his to lose”.  I think Giants fans (and reporters?) know deep down that he will, indeed, lose it.   The only true unknowns are…  how soon will it happen, and what options may be available to the Giants when it does?

There’s ample material there for a future blog post… so stay tuned.

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