So nice, they'll play twice: Giants spending week in NYC
Rare lengthy visit to include consecutive three-game series against Mets, Yankees
NEW YORK -- There's more of everything in New York, as the Giants will learn this week.
They'll experience a supersized trip to the Big Apple in which they'll play back-to-back three-game series against both the Mets and Yankees, following Monday's scheduled off-day.
While this could happen more frequently in the future for logistical reasons, it's a scheduling rarity for now, though the Cincinnati Reds visited the Mets and Yankees back to back last year for a total of five games. According to STATS Inc., the last time the Giants played six or more games in New York within the same week was Sept. 2-8, 1957. Then, of course, New York was home for the Giants, who later in the month announced their move to San Francisco.
For ballplayers accustomed to occupying cities three or four days at a time, spending a week in the same road town could seem unsettling. Add to that the simple fact that the Giants aren't in any ordinary place. They're in New York, home of culture and subcultures, armadas of taxis, the greatest of what civilization has to offer and civilization's sheer excess in the form of people everywhere.
Giants right-hander Sergio Romo is torn between cocooning in his hotel room and allowing himself to enjoy New York's charms.
"I don't think that I've ever been in one hotel for one week in professional baseball," Romo said. "I'm not too sure if I'm excited to see the same four walls for that long. But it is New York. You can wander outside, and there are a lot of interesting things you can see and do."
So Romo, like a lot of other Giants, will try to strike a balance between taking refuge in his room and appreciating the city.
"I have my Xbox," Romo said. "And I definitely have some snacks.
"I'm going to have to find a way to keep myself entertained and not really perceive it as being in the same room for a whole week -- the same small, confined room, in a sense. Obviously, it's a nice room, but it's still a room. I've got to move around a little bit."
Right-hander George Kontos plans on moving around a lot.
"I still haven't been to the top of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty," said Kontos, a Yankees draftee who was a September callup with them in 2011.
Kontos will make sure not to move himself around, however.
"The one thing I would recommend not doing in New York is driving," he said.
Recalling an ill-fated attempt to see the city when he was about to report to the Yanks' Rookie-level Staten Island affiliate in 2006, Kontos said that he got stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge in a 90-minute traffic jam at 12:30 a.m.
The first half of the Giants' visit should be somewhat routine, since they'll face the Mets, who they regularly encounter on the National League circuit. The Giants will be reminded of what might have been, though, as they confront right-hander Zack Wheeler in Tuesday's series opener.
Wheeler was San Francisco's No. 1 selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and was traded for right fielder Carlos Beltran at the 2011 Trade Deadline. Beltran didn't propel the Giants into the postseason, as they had hoped, but Wheeler (7-5, 3.22 ERA as a rookie) has developed into a quality starter, as they expected. Wheeler allowed one run and three his in seven innings while defeating the Giants, 7-2, on July 10 at AT&T Park.
The weekend Interleague series against the Yankees has the potential of being a more memorable experience for the Giants. Playing at the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, will be a novelty for most of them. Moreover, performing before the sometimes vociferous Stadium crowds could be a unique experience for the less-experienced Giants.
"It can be intimidating," said Giants first-base coach Roberto Kelly, who played for the Yanks from 1987-92. "Those fans are going to try to get on you. The fans are really part of the game there. They make their presence felt."
The Yankees series should be especially meaningful for a pair of Giants rookies -- outfielder Juan Perez and catcher Johnny Monell. Both have ties to the Bronx, the borough which is home to Yankee Stadium. Monell was born there, and Perez attended high school there.
Perez, 26, sharpened his skills literally in the shadow of the previous version of Yankee Stadium. He worked out at a complex consisting of three baseball fields and a running track where the current Stadium now exists. Occasionally he drew inspiration by staring up at Yankee Stadium, which symbolized his baseball hopes and dreams.
"I knew I had to work my way up," he said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.