Toward the end of spring training, Trevor Brown said his daily phone conversations with his parents took on a recurring theme.
“They’d say, ‘How’s it looking? What do you think?’ ” Brown said. “My response to them would be, ‘Hey, I have no idea.’ ”
Brown spent much of camp in a battle with Andrew Susac for the Giants’ backup catcher job. But Brown pulled away late, as he was catching more innings and Susac was sidelined by a wrist injury. Last Sunday morning Brown got some good the news to pass to the family: He had been voted the recipient of the Barney Nugent Award, annually given to the Giants player who stood out most in his first big-league camp.
That news was trumped a few hours later. Brown was summoned after batting practice to Bruce Bochy’s office, where the manager, general manager Bobby Evans and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes told him that he’d made the Opening Day roster.
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“It was a really good day,” Brown said.
It’s the first such honor for Brown, whose major-league experience amounts to a 13-game cameo with the Giants last September. Brown spent most of last season at Triple-A Sacramento, and he had already returned home to Southern California for the offseason when the Giants called him up. He wound up impressing the Giants with his poise and handling of the pitching staff, albeit in a small sample size.
This spring, Brown caught the most innings of any Giants catcher and hit .324 (12 for 37) in the Cactus League. He will open the season as the backup to Buster Posey – quite a distinction for the 24-year-old who bounced between catcher and the infield while at UCLA and in the minors and only began catching full time last season.
“Hopefully it’s just because of my performance,” Brown said. “I’ve heard some stuff saying that (Susac) was hurt, so I just ended up in the role. But I thought I played well, and either way I’m really pumped that I’m here and just really excited to make an Opening Day roster.
“Coming to camp my original goal was just to make it a tough decision. And now to end up making the team is just crazy.”
Because he was behind the plate so often this spring, Brown said he feels more familiar now with the Giants’ returning pitchers and also got to know newcomers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, who will open the season No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the starting rotation.
“Compared to last year, getting thrown in there without catching anybody even one time, it’s nice,” Brown said. “I got to catch a couple outings for those new guys, and they had a couple really good outings at the end. So hopefully our game-calling and strategy is more on the same page and they’re comfortable with me, too.”
Brown might not ever place a more welcome call than the one he got to make to his parents Sunday. He said Evans, Bochy and Hayes “seemed really excited for me,” but in delivering the news they kept things “pretty straightforward,” so Brown tried to follow suit.
“In the meeting I tried to be pretty even-keel,” he said. “But it was a little bit (emotional) afterward when I got to call my family and stuff like that.
“They were just as excited.”