New season means new victory playlist for Crawford, Giants

New season means new victory playlist for Crawford, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In 2013, Brandon Crawford spent most of his time hitting eighth. The next year, he moved up a spot, and by 2015 he was a regular in the six-spot. Last year Crawford made 65 starts hitting fifth, his home this season, except on days when the man who used to hit in front of the pitcher will bat cleanup.

It’s been a steady rise, and over time Crawford has added Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger, All-Star, MVP candidate and Team USA shortstop to his resume. One role hasn’t changed, however.

When the Giants win a game, Crawford quickly transitions into clubhouse DJ for the fifth consecutive year.

When Crawford first took over the speakers — “Nobody else would,” he explained — he leaned over an old clubhouse computer after wins and pulled the victory soundtrack’s songs up on YouTube. These days, he has a carefully curated playlist on his phone. It’s hooked up to clubhouse speakers after every win, at home and on the road. 

Crawford and BP pitcher/replay specialist Chad Chop spent a couple of weeks discussing options before gathering at Crawford’s home for “Hooks and Hoops 2.0.” The summit, started in 2016, is exactly what it sounds like. 

“We shoot jumpers and pick the victory songs,” Chop said. 

Every song on the five-track playlist has a purpose. The 2017 version kicks off with Icona Pop’s “I Love It.”

“It’s upbeat,” Crawford said. “That’s why it’s first. Everyone is coming into the clubhouse, having a good time. It’s a good high-five song.”

As players start to take their jerseys off and head to the weight room or kitchen, they hear “Big Rings” by Drake and Future, one of Chop’s suggestions. Next is a mainstay: “Bounce It” by Juicy J. The song has been on every one of Crawford’s victory soundtracks and is usually the one playing when the starting pitcher begins addressing the media, which, to the amusement of players, can make for some awkward background audio for cameras and recorders. 

“Aside from the lyrical genius of Juice J,” Crawford said, smiling, “It’s just a good win song.”

“Bounce It” has played after hundreds of Giants wins at this point, and it’s not going anywhere. This year’s cleanup hitter is a familiar one, too: “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground, which was one of Javier Lopez’s warm-up songs. 

“We put on ‘Big Rings’ which was a song Javi liked and we started thinking about Javi and thought this was a good song, a fun old song, and a good tribute to him,” Crawford said. “It’s a song that gives you a good feeling after you win.”

That’s the simple goal of all the playlists. The fifth and final song this year is literally "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida. Last year’s victory soundtrack was made up of “Bounce It,” Steve Aoki’s “Delirious,” Young Jeezy’s “Go Getta,” Pit Bull’s “My House,” and — naturally — DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.” It played from April all the way through Game 3 of the NLDS. 

The DJ work isn’t just saved for after the game, either. Crawford took over the BP playlists last spring and he’s back for a second season. Before games, he'll take requests from teammates, some of them surprising (Ryan Vogelsong was partial to "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea. "He loved that song. I don't know what it was," Crawford said last season). He even snuck his music into a late-September game in 2015, when he changed the walk-up songs for every teammate. Buster Posey walked up to “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” several players got 90s boy band hits, and George Kontos took the mound to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

As he made his first push for MVP votes last summer, Crawford spent some down time working on a another walk-up playlist to spring on teammates during the final home game. He scrapped his carefully-crafted plans because the second wild card spot came down to the final weekend against the Dodgers and it wasn’t appropriate. There are many reasons why a team wants to wrap up a postseason spot well before the final weekend. Add this one to the top of your list.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”