Mike Yastrzemski

Mike Yastrzemski believes MLB season will feel like September every game

Mike Yastrzemski believes MLB season will feel like September every game

Mike Yastrzemski knows the Giants can't wait around to find their groove. How they start the 60-game 2020 MLB season can make or break their year. 

The season is set the begin July 23, what usually is more of a middle point for baseball. Throw that out the window. For Yastrzemski and the Giants, every day is going to feel more like September. Every game matters in this sprint, it's simple as that.

"It's kind of like September baseball all the way around," Yastrzemski said Thursday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "We were in a really good chance in August and September to play really meaningful games. I think we have a good core group that's kind of used to that."

This roster certainly looks different than those of the Giants' World Series teams, but veterans like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval will look to lead the way. They do have that experience, even though San Francisco hasn't seen the playoffs since 2016. 

Yastrzemski believes the Giants have another advantage of experience, one that dates back even further. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"We have a ton of guys who went to college," Yastrzemski said. "Even though we have guys who might have been out of college for a while, we all know what it's like to play a 58-game season. I think having that experience is going to be really beneficial.

"You're gonna kind of lean on your past experiences and try and get an advantage like that."

The Giants' projected starting lineup, which will change nearly every game, does feature plenty of players who played in college, including Yastrzemski. What this team really needs more than anything, is another impressive season from none other than Yaz himself. 

[RELATED: Why Krukow believes 2020 Giants have 'golden opportunity']

Finally making his MLB debut at 28 years old last season, Yastrzemski hit .272 with 21 homers in just 107 games. He feels like every game will be like September, and that should make Giants fans happy, too. Yastrzemski hit .292 with three homers in September last season, and certainly expects even better this year.

The Giants expect to shock many this season, and they'll need players like Yastrzemski to start off hot if they're to do so.

Giants coach Justin Viele recalls Mike Yastrzemski calling MLB shot

Giants coach Justin Viele recalls Mike Yastrzemski calling MLB shot

When Giants fans look back on Mike Yastrzemski's rookie year, they surely remember the 21 homers, his successful return to Baltimore, and that magical series at Fenway Park. Justin Viele, one of Yastrzemski's new hitting coaches, watched all that from afar, recalling some conversations he had with Yastrzemski long before Giants fans knew who the outfielder was. 

Viele was taken in the 37th round out of Santa Clara in 2013 and played two seasons as an infielder in Baltimore's minor league system before getting into coaching. He was Yastrzemski's teammate and roommate, and years later they were reunited when Gabe Kapler picked the 29-year-old Viele as one of his hitting coaches on a revamped staff. 

Viele joined the Giants Insider Podcast this week and recalled the early days with Yastrzemski, which included plenty of conversations about their futures. In particular, Viele vividly remembers a trip to the beach with current Orioles Trey Mancini and Austin Wynns when they were all in the instructional league. Viele hasn't forgotten what Yastrzemski said as they rode along in the backseat of Mancini's truck. 

"I remember vividly him saying, 'I'm going to make it to the Major Leagues. I'm going to be a big league player.' And I remember just thinking, man, I cannot honestly say the same thing," Viele said, smiling. "I literally knew if I were to say it I would have just sounded so phony because I didn't truly believe that. Playing with Yaz and playing with Trey, these guys were on a different level, mentally and physically. Everything they did was just so cool to watch.

"When Yaz said that, I'm like, I know he's going to make it. Just from the conviction and way he said it I knew he was going to make it. That was a really cool memory for me."

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Viele hit just .211 in two years in the minors, and he said he could tell back then how some players were just wired differently. He remembers thinking every game was the most important game of his life, while Yastrzemski and Mancini -- who hit 35 homers last year for the Orioles -- always kept an even temperament. 

"Everything was so calm," he said. "They have this focus of what they want to accomplish that day and they go play the game and the game just looks so easy, and for me it was not that way. It was really cool to watch."

Viele has forged his own path, one that's just about unprecedented in the game. He began his coaching career in 2015 and spent two years at his alma mater before coaching in rookie ball for the Dodgers, where he worked under Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi. He was the hitting coach in A-ball last year and was promoted to minor league hitting coordinator before Kapler called with a surprising offer to help lead a big league staff. 

[RELATED: Zaidi encouraged by what he's seeing from Giants]

Viele has gotten into that job at a remarkably young age, which is ironically the opposite of the path Yastrzemski took. It took Yastrzemski six years in the minors to get his first shot, but he certainly made the most of it. His former roommate wasn't at all surprised to see the success on the field last year. 

"When he came up and he started doing what he was doing, I was not shocked," Viele said. "I was like, yep, I was expecting that. It was probably cool for him. The Orioles didn't bring him up at all and then he goes and does that. Hopefully they saw that -- obviously they did -- it is cool to kind of prove that yeah I can do this and I should be up here."

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]