When the Giants flew to New York a couple of weekends ago, Ron Wotus spent the ensuing off day back home in Connecticut. He got to see his mom, who would celebrate her birthday a few days later, and had the opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in person for the first time since he was in high school.
For Wotus, that moment was further validation that a decision he announced Tuesday was the right one.
Wotus, in his 34th year with the Giants and 24th season on the big league staff, announced that he will be stepping back from a full-time coaching role at the end of this season. This is not retirement. Wotus and the Giants are working to find a front office role that will keep him around in some capacity, but his days of standing on the top step of the dugout or waving runners home from the third base box are nearing an end.
"I'm going to miss it," Wotus said. "It was not an easy decision by any means, but I just feel it's time for me."
Wotus said he has been contemplating this move for a while, and in recent weeks he spoke with Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, Gabe Kapler and others in the organization about his desire to find more balance in life. On Monday, he asked Kapler if he could address the team. Wotus informed them of his decision and the Giants made it official a day later in order to keep it from leaking down the stretch.
Wotus began his coaching career in 1990 in A-ball, and in 1998 he became Dusty Baker's third base coach. He said the trip home after that first game on a big league staff was one of the highlights of his career, which has included three World Series runs.
"I remember driving home after my first big league game with a huge smile on my face," he said.
When Felipe Alou took over as manager, he kept Wotus, who by then was the bench coach. Bruce Bochy did the same, and two years ago Wotus became the only holdover on Gabe Kapler's large and young staff. In a sport where three seasons in one place counts as longevity, Wotus has spent more than two decades on the big league staff in San Francisco and served under four very different managers.
"I wouldn't want to have it any other way, honestly," he said. "A couple of times I didn't know if I would be back and I had opportunities to leave, as well, but my heart was always with the Giants. I think it's special. I'm pretty loyal as an individual and I think it's much more rewarding to be with one organization."
Kapler shocked many around the game with some of his unique coaching hires, but as he put together the staff, he knew he needed Wotus as a bridge between generations. He wanted Wotus to help those who were already in orange and black blend with the newcomers, and on Tuesday, the manager said Wotus has lived up to expectations in every way.
"He's warm and he's got an incredible sense of humor," Kapler said. "This game can be stressful -- we get into August and September and it's a lot of games and we're in a pennant race and you need somebody to kind of make people smile, and he's excellent at that. He's diligent. He's prepared. He knows the opposition. All of the reasons that he was successful as a member of Bruce Bochy's staff are the same reasons he's been successful with our group.
"It's bittersweet. You celebrate his career but you also know that at the end of this season he's going to move on, and that's sad."
Kapler and Wotus have talked often over the last couple of weeks about a future role, and the manager made it clear he still wants Wotus heavily involved, saying he envisions a role that allows the 60-year-old to make an impact on the field and in meetings going forward.
Wotus will have plenty of time to figure out specifics. For now, the longest-tenured coach in franchise history is focused on the day-to-day grind. He's been doing it more than half of his life and still loves it. He's just ready for a change.
"I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to be with the Giants as long as I have," Wotus said. "I love coaching, I love the players, I love the competition, and that hasn't left me. That hasn't left me. And I love this team, and I'm still looking forward to this next month, hopefully two months."