SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy has made thousands of lineup decisions in his career, but for most of the last decade, shortstop Brandon Crawford made that process a bit easier.
Crawford broke into the big leagues in 2011 and became an everyday force on defense while also turning himself into an All-Star-caliber hitter. As Bochy winds it down this week, Crawford holds a special distinction. No player has been on the field for more innings of Bochy's career than Crawford, who is at 10,286 2/3 entering Wednesday with five games remaining.
Crawford is the third player featured -- after Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt -- in this look back at the relationships Bochy built with his core players. Here's what he had to say about the only manager he has ever known in the big leagues:
NBC Sports Bay Area: Do you remember the first time you met Bochy and your first impression of him?
Brandon Crawford: "The first time I met him was probably when I came up for my first spring training game. I came in and he said hi to me and introduced himself. The first impression I guess was more as a fan, just knowing he had been a manager for a long time with San Diego and then came up to the Giants.
"As a fan of the Giants I knew about him and saw him on TV and stuff like that all the time."
How has your relationship with Bochy evolved over the years?
"I think the thing that's changed the most is I kind of see his sense of humor more now than I did when I first came up. When you first come up he's kind of this imposing figure with his big old head. It didn't seem like he joked around a whole lot or anything like that.
"He always seemed pretty serious but I think over the years I've kind of been able to see his sense of humor."
What has made him such a successful manager?
"I think what's always made him so good is his in-game decisions and his in-the-moment -- or maybe even sometimes thinking far ahead into the game -- decisions. He always seems to push the right button and make the right move whether it's a bullpen or a pinch-hitter or something like that."
Do you have a favorite memory with Bochy?
"After 2014, after we won the World Series, kind of just seeing how happy he was. I think that was the happiest I've ever seen him. I don't know if it was because it was Game 7 and the whole situation with the tying run on third and all that, but it was just kind of a sense of relief probably for everybody.
"Seeing how he was and everybody giving him hugs, I remember that a little more specifically."
Have there been times when you didn't see eye to eye?
"There are times when you kind of question it but then you look at how many things he's done that have gone right. You're not going to get it right every time. But one thing I can think of is he never batted me leadoff. That's the only spot I really wanted him to put me because I have never batted leadoff.
"That was the only spot I haven't hit for him."
What's something fans don't know about him?
"I would probably go back to the sense of humor because I don't think he shows that side of him very often. During the game he doesn't really a whole lot either, but during batting practice he likes to joke around or give guys a hard time. I don't think he shows that a whole lot."
Do you think he will manage again?
"I wouldn't be surprised. Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised."