Baseball

River Cats reliever Brett Bochy never too far from father’s reach

Giants’ Brett Bochy (85) in action during spring training baseball practice Feb. 19, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Giants’ Brett Bochy (85) in action during spring training baseball practice Feb. 19, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Associated Press

While Bruce Bochy managed the National League at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati on Tuesday, his son Brett spent the Triple-A All-Star break at home happy just to still be in the Giants’ organization.

The 2015 season has not been memorable for Brett Bochy, 27, especially after last September, when he became the first son to pitch for his manager/father in a major-league game.

Brett wasn’t on the postseason roster as the Giants won the World Series, but he earned his first World Series ring for his contribution during the regular season.

Two weeks ago, the Giants designated Bochy and 2014 postseason hero Travis Ishikawa for assignment to make room for River Cats left-hander Josh Osich and outfielder Ryan Lollis.

Despite the setback, Bruce Bochy remains positive about his son’s career.

“He seems to be doing fine; we text and talk fairly often,” Bochy said before the All-Star break. “He had a couple of rough outings, but he’s bounced back each time. I think he’s doing what he needs to do.”

Though he rarely is able to watch Brett pitch, Bruce Bochy gets reports about his son and says he has improved lately.

In 25 relief appearances this season entering Saturday night, Brett Bochy is 3-0 with a 3.78 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 34 hits allowed in 331/3 innings. The River Cats lead the Pacific Coast League with 724 strikeouts.

River Cats manager Bob Mariano describes Brett as quiet and professional. Mariano said Bochy has good control and knows how to use both sides of the plate.

3.78Brett Bochy’s ERA with the River Cats this season

“A lot of times, when I use him, I don’t even associate him with his dad being up there when I make decisions,” Mariano said. “I just treat him just like everybody else.”

While Brett has no illusions of pitching for his father this season, he said he’s trying to improve.

“It goes from outing to outing; stuff changes where you need to refine your pitches, your location, your mechanics,” he said. “So I go based on that and try and fix things as (I) go throughout the season.”

Bochy began pitching in his senior year of high school, after playing third base. His older brother, Greg, also played third base and pitched in the minors from 2002 to 2004. Greg’s career was cut short by injuries, Brett said.

Although Bruce played catcher throughout his nine-year major-league career, Brett said his father never pushed his sons to play the position. Quite the contrary.

“He got kind of banged up catching, so I don’t think he wanted either of us to catch,” Brett said.

In fact, Brett Bochy said, his father never pressured his sons to play baseball. Rather, he and his brother grew up loving the sport. It was hard not to go into the family business after spending so much time in clubhouses as kids. The biggest influence came when Bruce Bochy became the San Diego Padres’ manager in 1995 when Brett was 7.

“He didn’t get to see a lot of Little League games and high school games, which is kind of a bummer,” Brett Bochy said. “But in the summers, I got to work with him every day, and not many kids got to do that. So we got to spend a lot of time together in that sense.”

Brett pitched at the University of Kansas, where as a junior in 2008 he had a 4.34 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 371/3 innings.

His senior season was cut short by Tommy John surgery. But Bochy had done enough to get noticed by big-league teams. The Giants selected him in the 20th round of the 2010 draft.

Bochy rehabbed before pitching for the Giants’ Class-A affiliate in Georgia, the Augusta Greenjackets, in 2010. Since his surgery, Bochy said he has not had any major injuries.

Bochy was promoted to the Giants last September.

It’s a memory I’ll never forget, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it the rest of our lives.

Bruce Bochy on his son’s Giants’ debut

In the sixth inning of a 17-0 Giants loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park, Bruce Bochy summoned his son from the bullpen. He gave the ball to Brett with the bases loaded and two outs.

“He apologized for bringing me in with the bases loaded,” Brett said.

Brett walked in one run before recording the final out.

“It’s a memory I’ll never forget, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it the rest of our lives,” Bruce Bochy said afterward.

Brett experienced a little of everything in that game, from recording his first career strikeout against Yasiel Puig to giving up his first home run. He allowed two runs on one hit in 11/3 innings.

Bochy appeared in three games for the Giants last season, compiling a 5.40 ERA in 31/3 innings.

While no longer in San Francisco’s clubhouse with his dad or on the team’s 40-man roster, Brett appreciates pitching on the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento.

5.40Brett Bochy’s ERA in three games with the Giants last season

“(My family is) not too far away now, so I have gotten to get up there when we have an off day,” he said.

Bruce Bochy, 60, underwent heart surgery in February in Scottsdale, Ariz. Doctors inserted two stents after he experienced chest pains during a routine physical.

“It was definitely tough to find that out, but once I talked to the trainers and everything was under control, it wasn’t a big deal,” Brett said.

Though things aren’t going as planned for Brett in 2015, don’t expect him to hang up his cleats and follow in his father’s footsteps as a coach or manager anytime soon.

“I don’t have plans of following him (as a manager) in the future,” he said. “I’m worried about playing, and that’s the big focus right now.”

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