In some ways, 2020, as strange as it was, provided what Bruce Bochy expected from retirement. He spent a lot of time with family, especially his grandchildren, two of whom are staying with him right now. He fished occasionally, and while travel was limited, he did explore some places near San Diego and San Francisco he had not previously gotten to during 25 years as a manager. He accomplished tasks that weren't possible when he was thinking about lineups and rotations on a daily basis, and like the fan base that adores him, he spent much of his summer hunkered down at home, watching the Giants.
"The team, I thought was entertaining," Bochy said last week. "I loved the way they swung the bats. They could put some runs up on the board."
Bochy had hoped to spend much of 2020 watching those bats in person. He visited the Giants in spring training in late February before heading to Tucson to lead Team France in World Baseball Classic qualifying that was soon postponed.
As a special advisor for the Giants, Bochy likely would have been a regular at the ballpark during a normal season, and he was scheduled to visit the club's affiliates.
But the pandemic meant Bochy's first summer at home in decades was literally a summer spent mostly at home. The upside was that he found he loved watching the game from afar, particularly when it came to the players he knows so well and others who broke through in his final season with the Giants.
"I was happy for Yastrzemski and Solano," Bochy said. "I think what they did last year just validated what they did the year before. There's a lot of times when you have a really good year like both of them did the year before and you don't know how they're going to do the following year, and they just responded so well and had big years."
Bochy said he also enjoyed watching Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, two longtime cornerstones of his lineups, bounce back in 2020. There was one familiar face who was missing, though. Buster Posey still has not played a big-league game for anyone but Bochy. He opted out a few weeks before the season started to take care of twin daughters his family adopted. Bochy and Posey have kept in touch via text message.
"I think he's going to be really pumped to get back to playing baseball and have a really nice year," Bochy said. "I really, really liked the way he was swinging the bat in spring training last year before he made this decision. He looked good. He looked like the old Buster. He was letting the bat go and driving the ball. He's even further away from that hip surgery, it just takes time. You know, he's a difference-maker. Who knows what would have happened last year if he would have played, but he did the right thing with his two little ones. I was proud. I was proud of him for making that decision."
The Giants ultimately fell one win short of getting to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Bochy said they should be proud of the way they played last year, and he's excited for what to come.
Spring training won't be normal next month, but at some point, the sport will get back to a point where ballparks open up, and Bochy is ready for it.
"I'm looking forward to doing some things in baseball," he said. "I'm still working with the Giants, so I want to get back to hopefully helping them, watching our kids in the minor leagues, going to every affiliate if I can, helping to mentor the players, coaches, or even managers. Any way I can help, that's going to be my job. I'm looking forward to getting started."