SAN FRANCISCO -- If you get to the park early enough before a night game you'll see Giants closer Will Smith running 10 sprints along the warning track, with Reyes Moronta following along the whole way. A couple hours later, they often come out to play catch with one another, and when batting practice is over, there is a race back to the dugout.
During games, Smith sits next to his new setup man and talks about everything from family to the importance of avoiding a leadoff walk. On team flights, the 30-year-old lefty from Georgia and 26-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic are side by side.
Smith and Moronta have formed one of the closer bonds on the roster, but when you ask Smith how it started, he can't pinpoint a moment that stands out. Instead, he simply laughs and starts telling a story about the player he calls Mo.
"He just showed up the first day and kind of followed me around for the rest of the day," Smith said, smiling. "And then we just kind of built this relationship day by day. It just kind of happened one day and now it is what it is today."
What Smith and Moronta have today is a special bond that survived an initial language barrier, ups and downs for both players -- including Tommy John surgery for Smith -- and a trade deadline scare this July. With Sam Dyson in Minnesota and Tony Watson struggling, they are the undisputed last two men standing in Bruce Bochy's bullpen.
Smith was the All-Star this year, but Moronta is quietly having another strong season. He has a 2.80 ERA in 52 appearances and is striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings.
Moronta has been effective from the day he showed up in 2017, posting a 2.64 ERA. Over time the other relievers have watched him grow as a pitcher. They have tried to help as much as possible, too.
When Smith came up as a rookie with the Brewers, he had Francisco Rodriguez on one side in the clubhouse and Jonathan Broxton on the other. Smith would have to go over every outing with Rodriguez, and while his discussions with Moronta aren't quite that scheduled, the two do spend plenty of time breaking down appearances, and just as importantly, discussing what to do between them.
It can be hard for a young reliever to admit that anything is wrong physically, and Smith and others have tried to encourage Moronta to speak up more when something is barking.
"Hey, these guys (the training staff) are here to take care of you," Smith said. "As a bullpen guy the only day you're going to feel 100 percent is the first day of spring training. You hope to be at 85 percent, 90 percent most days, and that's what we've tried to tell him. You're not going to feel great every day but if you believe you can get through it, you do. If you don't, you have to say something.
"You do see him in the training room a little more now. Being the young guy in the training room, you don't want to be in there. But then (the veterans) finally kind of push you in there."
Moronta finished third on the staff in appearances last year and is again third this season. He said Smith's greatest gift has been helping him move on from bad outings.
"He taught me to trust myself and forget what happens today," Moronta said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "If you have a bad outing, let it go and move on. If you keep thinking about the bad things, you're not going to grow and you're not going to learn. You're not going to last."
Moronta looks like he certainly will, and if Smith moves on in free agency he should get the first crack at the ninth inning. But for now the two continue to enjoy their time together.
For much of Moronta's stint in the bullpen, he has been the only pitcher with Latin roots. Predictably, the veterans have taught him plenty of English words and phrases. Moronta has returned the favor with Spanish. And because you get bored over three hours in a bullpen, not everything is from the textbooks.
"We have fun down there. He's been the only Latin in the bullpen for a while and he fits in with all of us down there," Smith said. "We were teaching him stuff -- probably not the best stuff in the world -- and he was teaching us. But we also definitely have baseball talks. The only thing we had in common (at first) is baseball and that's kind of where it started.
"We had our common bond of baseball and it went from there."