McGehee finds redemption with grand slam
Struggling third baseman returns to lineup, lifts Giants with big homer
SAN FRANCISCO -- The trophy Casey McGehee received Friday night for winning last season's National League Comeback Player of the Year Award should have been engraved "To be continued."
Demonstrating the resilience that baseball demands from its performers, McGehee earned himself a reprieve from his dreadful start to the 2015 season. The embattled third baseman drilled a second-inning grand slam that highlighted a 2-for-4 effort and propelled the Giants to a 6-0 triumph over the Miami Marlins.
Before the game, Bochy hoped the ceremony recognizing McGehee would bolster his confidence.
"If you let the tough times define who you are, that's not how it should be," Bochy said. "It should be all the good things. Because you are one of the best players in the world. You should appreciate that. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves."
That's precisely the effect the observance had upon McGehee, whose .287 batting average and 76 RBIs last season won him the Comeback honors after he spent 2013 playing in Japan. Those numbers prompted the Giants, who needed a replacement at third after Pablo Sandoval defected for Boston, to obtain McGehee from the Marlins last December for two Minor League pitchers.
"It was a good reminder that I've been through adversity before and I've come out of it," McGehee said of the brief festivities. "I didn't come out of it by feeling sorry for myself."
McGehee felt in control during the second inning as he worked the count to 3-1 against Marlins starter Jarred Cosart and drove a 95 mph fastball over the left-center-field barrier. Rounding first base, he allowed himself the slightest of fist pumps as the AT&T Park audience, which booed him earlier in the week, burst into sustained applause.
"I was just fired up to contribute," McGehee said. "You don't ever want to feel like you're the weak link."
It was McGehee's third career grand slam and first since April 26, 2010, as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. McGehee had another bases-loaded opportunity with nobody out in the seventh inning, but Marlins third baseman Martin Prado turned his sizzling one-hopper into a double play.
McGehee grounded into double plays in each of his last two at-bats, recalling the struggles he has endured through most of the season. He entered the game batting .178 while having grounded into nine double plays, the second-highest figure in the Majors. He also was 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position. Bochy left McGehee out of the lineup in the previous three games to soothe his mind, as much as anything.
McGehee made solid contact in each plate appearance, which encouraged him. Describing his approach, he said, "I don't really know how else to say it but, 'Screw it. Go out there and put your best at-bat on 'em and whatever happens, happens.' The totality of it -- even though some of the results were not great, I was happy I was able to put together four at-bats I was pleased with.
"The trick is doing it again tomorrow."