How former Giant Ryan Vogelsong prepared Sam Coonrod for MLB success

How former Giant Ryan Vogelsong prepared Sam Coonrod for MLB success

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong spent years in the spotlight at Oracle Park, but these days his best work for the Giants is done in the background. Vogelsong is a roving instructor for the organization and has drawn nothing but positive reviews. 

It's pretty common for young pitchers to cite something Vogelsong once told them as they settle into the big leagues, and Sam Coonrod did so a few minutes after an eye-opening performance against the Cubs last month. On this week's edition of The Giants Insider Podcast, Coonrod explained how Vogelsong has helped him.

"One of the things he said is that you have to out-focus your opponent," Coonrod said. "He said that's why he was able to last for a while, and it really does work. You notice that things become a little bit slower out there whenever you can out-focus your opponent. Instead of allowing the game to speed up too fast for you, you can focus in on it and it slows it down for you."

Vogelsong was legendary for his intensity and focus on the mound and he has tried to pass that along to the next generation. So far, Coonrod is finding success. He has a 2.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP and has allowed just six hits in 13 innings. 

Making mental adjustments has been especially important for Coonrod, who was a starter up until he had Tommy John surgery but now is getting used to life as a reliever. He said he's learning how to find that focus on quick notice. 

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"I've definitely gotten better at it since he told me," Coonrod said. "I still need to get better at it, but I think I'm going in the right direction with it."

Coonrod also talked about his big league debut, trusting Buster Posey, and a wild trade deadline for a close bullpen. You can stream the podcast here or download it on iTunes here. 

Mike Yastrzemski's homer in Fenway Park debut highlights Giants' win

Mike Yastrzemski's homer in Fenway Park debut highlights Giants' win

No one couldn't have scripted it any better.

Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, playing his first game in grandfather Carl's old stomping grounds, did what the Red Sox legend did so many times: He manned left field, just in front of the fabled Green Monster, and launched a home run at Fenway Park in his team's victory.

The special moment came in the top of the fourth inning of the Giants' series opener against the Red Sox, when Yastrzemski blasted a 3-1 fastball off Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi 401 feet to dead center.

Yastrzemski, who finished 2-for-7 with the homer, one double, one walk and two runs scored, led off the game and received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd ahead of his first at-bat. He ended up striking out, but he got the better of Eovaldi the next time they faced each other.

"It was incredible, just being able to be in front of family and friends," Yastrzemski told NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez immediately after the Giants' 7-6, 15-inning win, "and I couldn't have asked for a better welcome from the entire crowd. That was special."

Alex Dickerson's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the 15th eventually ended the marathon, but all the postgame attention was on Yastrzemski, who was born in the Boston suburb of Andover. Tuesday's homer increased Yastrzemski's season total to 20, giving the Giants two outfielders -- Kevin Pillar being the other -- with 20 or more for the first time since 2006, when Barry Bonds and Moises Alou accomplished the feat.

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Perhaps most impressive of all, Yastrzemski's 20 homers have come in just 97 games with the Giants, who acquired the Baseball Hall of Famer's grandson in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in March.

Not too shabby for a 29-year-old rookie.

Watch Giants' Mike Yastrzemski receive standing ovation at Fenway Park

Watch Giants' Mike Yastrzemski receive standing ovation at Fenway Park

Mike Yastrzemski knew his return to Boston would be a big deal for his family, but he also knew how much it would mean to Red Sox fans who grew up cheering for his grandfather, Carl. Those fans showed their appreciation Tuesday when Yastrzemski stepped to the plate to lead off for the Giants. 

Yastrzemski got a nice ovation from the locals -- and a sizable Giants contingent -- before his first professional at-bat at Fenway Park. He grew up coming to games at the park and considered himself a diehard Red Sox fan. 

Yastrzemski said before the game that he planned to take the moment in. 

"It'll be cool. I don't get wrapped up in moments very easily," he said. "I've kind of trained my whole life to block out situations and crowd noises and stuff, but I think tonight I need to take a step back and get lost in one of the moments and appreciate that and experience it and then we can get back to playing baseball."

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Yastrzemski went down swinging in his first at-bat, but it was still a successful inning for the Giants. As Yastrzemski was settling back into the dugout, Brandon Belt hit a solo shot over the Green Monster.