I’m very proud of how hard Nick has worked over the years. We got together to tighten up his game before spring training 2012. He went on and had a banner season. I knew he was ready to make the big league team this 2013 season.
When we worked out together before spring training this year 2013, I reminded him of his insightful comment about my “Ride n’ Stride” technique. A technique for coping with the pitchers delivery and timing the speed of the pitch. It was a phrase I coined about 15 years ago. I started out convinced that there was no way anybody else could time the pitcher in a similar way…after all, everyone thinks in their own unique way. The technique turned out to be something that simply allows you to cope with the pitchers delivery and that allows your natural timing to take over. It’s something we do every day when we play catch…when I realized that players found it easy to catch onto, I knew I was onto something.
“The Late Mike Spiers” (he’ll be missed), gave me a call and said I needed to take a look at Nick before he headed off to spring training last year in 2012.
I knew Nick was a #1 round draft pick and a great athlete, but I wasn’t prepared for how fast he absorbed about a dozen advanced hitting concepts, faster than anyone I’ve ever worked with.
He was primed and ready to hear the TRUTH, and that’s all a young ball player needs sometimes.
We’ve all been burned at one time or another, hearing something about hitting that just ends up getting in our way, yet I was fortunate enough to be mentored by Frank Robinson (Hall of Famer), so it’s no wonder that based on what I learned from Frank and Tom McCraw, this timing technique would be instrumental in helping many young players.
Nick and I would spend 5 minutes on a subject and that’s all he needed… he’d say…”I Got it”…It’s a tribute to his experience, heart and athleticism!
After we talked about the “Ride n Stride technique” in 2012 he said, “YOU MEAN I GET TO MAKE MY OWN TIME NOW?” I said…absolutely!
This year we had our annual tune up here in San Diego before he left for spring training 2013, and I reminded Nick that I had been using his phrase that he added to my “Ride n’ Stride Technique”
“Making your own time” is a powerful way to inspire young hitters, it clearly describes what the Ride n’ Stride technique will do for you as a hitter.
Frank Robinson and Tom McCraw gave me the “Strategies of the Major League Plan” in 1983 and that year I had a career year in the minor leagues as a 19 yr old player. Frank and Tom took the time to educate me on the some of the high level concepts that an aspiring young player must grab onto if they want to compete at the highest level. Needless to say it changed the course of my career and I was in the big leagues 2 years later.
I remember signing with the Baltimore Orioles in 1995, Frank Robinson was the GM at the time. I said to Frank…”I never properly thanked you for what you did for me. Your words and encouragement changed the course of my career”! There I was in my 12th season in the Major Leagues and Franks reply was…”Your success was thanks enough”! I’ll never forget what he said after that…Frank said “I can’t tell you how many players I told the same darn thing and they didn’t take it to heart. I guess that’s what separates the players that make it to the big leagues. Understanding the advanced mental approach to hitting is an imperative, yet most players don’t have their ears open to hear it, or they simply didn’t believe it could be that straight forward.
Ride n’ Stride…Time any pitcher, any speed, any level, and you can be on time and buy time on the off speed pitch. “Buying Time” is another term I’ve used for a dozen years and Nick took to it in right away.
When you can “buy time” (Stay into your legs a little longer and in the zone from 1-3 feet further), the only thing a pitcher can do to you is throw it slower.
If you can buy time then you always have a chance. If you miss and take a good pass at the ball, then you just experienced the miss and the pitcher won’t be too anxious to throw another trick pitch in the same place…Odds are, after experiencing the miss on the first one, your mind and body will naturally “Buy Time” stay in the zone a little longer, (just a few thousandths of a second) and odds are you have a good chance at putting a good swing on it.
SAN FRANCISCO — Nick Noonan received some advice from Gregor Blanco as they left the Giants clubhouse Friday night. “Don’t cry, OK?” Blanco said.
Noonan wasn’t crying. Nor was he exulting, at least not outwardly. He maintained the cool demeanor that he has displayed throughout Spring Training, which helped him reach his goal: making the Giants’ 25-man Opening Day roster.
That became official after San Francisco’s 3-1 victory over the Oakland A’s, when the Giants announced that Noonan had been recalled from Triple-A Fresno. He’ll fill the second utility-infield role, filling in at second base, shortstop and third base.
Noonan clinched the job by accounting for two of San Francisco’s runs, lining an opposite-field RBI single to left in the fifth inning before yanking a triple to right-center field and scoring in the eighth.
“I just played with a big smile on my face, actually, from the moment I took the field until the last out,” Noonan said.
And that was before he received the good news from manager Bruce Bochy, who called Noonan into his office after the game.
Noonan, 23, finally achieved his Major League dream after spending six years in the Giants’ Minor League system. But the rookie spoke calmly to reporters, saving his celebrating for a reunion with loved ones who happened to be at the game — his parents, Bill and Athena, and his fiancee, Amanda.
Being optioned to Fresno on March 15 didn’t faze Noonan. In an unusual but not unprecedented move, he resumed playing regularly in Cactus League games on March 22, after infielder Wilson Valdez was released and one day after the Giants reassigned Kensuke Tanaka, another contender for the utility role, to Minor League camp.
“I just felt like there was an opportunity for me here,” Noonan said. “Looking at everyone around me, I never counted myself out. I stuck to that plan, and here we are today.”
Others weren’t as fortunate as Noonan, who lifted his spring average to .273.