Youth movement

youthbaseball.jpg

Youth baseball players use their giveaway bats to get Mike Krukow’s attention during the Q&A, as a member of the Orange and Black Attack holds the microphone.

When I arrived at AT&T Park around 10 a.m. Sunday, the first-base side of the lower deck was already teeming with young fans, enjoying the Giants’ annual Youth Baseball Day. Hundreds of Little Leaguers, Pony Leaguers, Police Athletic Leaguers and more enjoyed a question-and-answer session, hosted by broadcaster and former Major Leaguer Mike Krukow and featuring bullpen coach Mark Gardner, pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Joe Martinez and infielder Emmanuel Burriss.

affeldt_talk.jpgAffeldt (above), as usual, was a riot. When asked what his favorite pregame meal is, he jokingly gave the parent-approved answer of “salad! And fruit!” Another young player asked if he enjoyed motorcycling, and he replied that since his bosses were around, “No! I do NOT enjoy motorcycles.”

martinez_talk.jpgMartinez, still sporting the wicked black eye he suffered along with a concussion and three hairline skull fractures when hit by a line drive on April 9, gamely answered questions about whether it hurt to get hit and how many strikeouts he has this season. He said his most embarrassing moment in baseball was making it on SportsCenter for the first time but having it be for getting cracked in the head with the ball (hey Joe, nothing to be embarrassed about there — your doctor called you superhuman). Martinez was asked to demonstrate his pitching motion, but Krukow quickly interjected and reminded the crowd that Martinez is restricted from any physical activity for at least another three or four weeks.

After the Q&A, the kids got to participate in a pregame parade around the field before enjoying the game from their bleacher seats. The budding pitchers in the crowd got a great lesson from Randy Johnson, who no-hit the D-backs for six innings in earning his 296th career win. Tip No. 1, kids: Scowl.

Speaking of Johnson, before the game, nine of the youth players took the field before the Giants’ starting lineup joined them to sign a ball. Steve Gilbert, our MLB.com D-backs reporter, told me that while with Arizona, Johnson never participated in such on-field events when he was starting (presumably because it would disturb his focus). However, the Big Unit jogged out, shook the hand of a young player wearing a Braves shirt, signed a ball, then shook the kid’s hand again before beginning his warmup throws. Clearly, his focus wasn’t affected — perhaps he should get that young player to show up before all his starts.

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