by Paige Shacklett
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Baseball players just want to have fun.
When San Francisco Giants right fielders Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker aren’t showcasing their talents in the Cactus League, they find ways to lighten the mood and escape the pressures of spring training.
And there is plenty of pressure. The two friends are battling for the same Opening Day job in right field.
“I think Jarrett and I are both good friends and competitors,” Williamson said. “I think we’re both going to try to ignore the competition part of it. It kind of detracts from the fun and outgoing style of play that we have.”
The pair take a break from the stresses of the diamond by joining other teammates they came up through the minor leagues with for off-the-field activities in the Valley.
“We get together and do some stuff off the field,” Williamson said. “We went to a comedy show the other day together, just trying to keep it light off the field.
“You just want to get away sometimes and just have a little bit of a personal life. So things like that definitely lighten up the mood a little bit.”
On the field, it is about winning a job and preparing for the start of games that count.
“I think we’re all here for a reason, we’re all here to get better,” Parker said. “We’re all here to learn and improve, and I think we all have the single goal of winning the World Series. It starts here.”
The competition between the two right fielders is close.
Williamson has a spring slash line of .333/.394/.567 and Parker’s slash is .323/.462/.645 through Tuesday’s games.
(Video by Ryan Curry/Cronkite News)
Williamson said players avoid putting too much stock in spring training numbers or wins and losses. Instead, they are focused on remaining healthy and fine-tuning to prepare for the season.
“For me, fine-tuning is honing in on my approach at the plate,” Williamson said. “Right now, you’re facing a different pitcher every inning (in spring) so it’s really difficult to do that. Some of the (pitchers) you don’t have much information on. So, for me, it’s more about working on my approach and situations and getting ready to compete once the season comes.”
The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Veteran players such as Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Buster Posey own three World Series rings. For younger players, those veterans set the tone in the clubhouse.
“The way they mesh together and put aside the struggles and find the positives is something that we can all learn from as younger guys,” Williamson said. “(It is) something I learned from the last few years playing with them as much as I have.
“It’s seeing that kind of attitude, team first, (that) speaks to why this organization has been successful for the last few years.”
With the regular season looming, the competition between Williamson and Parker will wrap up soon. And then the real fun begins.
“I’m excited for the next few weeks here to play out,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be a fun time. This time of year is always fun and exciting and everyone is getting ready for a big year.”