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Old 06-17-2009, 11:17 PM   #61
wxwax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k7
There were 1075 guys drafted in 2006 ahead of Matt. To say that he was a long-shot is an understatement. If you think about all the money thrown at the higher draft picks, he's a bargin.

We had dinner with the Downs family (mom, dad, Matt, future wife - a cute little southern blond) this spring and I asked Matt point-blank if he could play at the major league level. There was absolutely no hestitation, "Oh yeah."

I hope he has a long and successful career and if it doesn't work out, he'll still have the title of major league player - no one can take that away.

I talked to his dad this afternoon - they'll be in SF by Friday for a week or so to watch a few games. That's cool!
Very cool!
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:53 PM   #62
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From a local AL paper....

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TUSCALOOSA | If he closes his eyes tight enough, he goes back in time. In his mind he is running underneath the bleachers, the summer sun stinging the back of his neck, as his brother is playing on the diamond.

He plays cup ball with his friends while the bigger kids play the real game right behind him.

Even back then Matt Downs had big dreams — dreams of one day playing on a bigger field in front of a lot more people.

As he relaxed in his Fresno, Calif., apartment Monday night, bone-weary from another day at the ballpark, he slumped on his couch watching SportsCenter trying to fight off his oncoming slumber.

Earlier in the day, the former Bibb County High School and University of Alabama baseball standout went 1-for-3 with a run scored as his Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies beat the Sacramento River Cats 6-5.

Around midnight, his phone rang. At 25 years old, his dream came true.

Downs was called up to the San Francisco Giants early Tuesday morning, becoming the fourth player to reach the big leagues from the 2006 Southeastern Conference champion Alabama squad (Tommy Hunter, David Robertson and Wade LeBlanc).

Upon getting the news, Downs sent rapid-fire text messages to his friends and former teammates but first placed a call to the people he cares for the most.

“I called my parents, my fiance and family and friends to let them know,” Downs said. “After that I went for a walk through the streets of Fresno just to clam down.

“The hardest part was trying to get some sleep. I didn’t get any and just laid in the bed all night long staring up at the ceiling.”

Sleep eventually came in the back of the Town Car the Giants sent for him. Downs slept during the three-hour drive to the California coastal city.

“They’ve put me up in a hotel in San Francisco for a week, The Donatello,” he said. “It’s about a 10-minute cab ride to the field. When I walked in I knew a bunch of guys from spring training.

“Everybody was congratulating me. I went in to talk to (Giants manager Bruce) Bochy and he said, ‘You’re in the infield tonight.’

“That threw me into the fire right away. But it was a good thing because I didn’t have as much time to sit back and think about it and be nervous.”

Starting at second base that night, Downs came to the plate in the bottom of the third inning for his first major league plate appearance.

After working a 2-0 count, he got the pitch he was looking for when Los Angeles Angels pitcher Sean O’Sullivan threw him a fastball.

“I got under it a little bit and flew out to the warning track,” he said.

He went 0-3 his first night but said he felt he swung the bat well.

On Wednesday afternoon he collected his first hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk.

In his first at-bat of the day, he roped a line drive up the middle for his first major league hit.

“On the way to first all I was thinking about was the ball. Get me the ball,” Downs said. “I got it. It’s sitting in my locker with the lineup card from the day I got my first hit.”

John and Beth Downs raised their two boys, Matt and Drew, in Centreville. As their sons were growing up, they encouraged them to be active in sports.

Drew was the first Downs boy to fall in love with the game. He started playing early, and Matt was there with him at every turn.

“You have to give Drew a lot of credit for Matt’s success,” John Downs said. “Drew was four years older and Matt would always tag along, playing cup ball behind the bleachers while Drew was playing on the field.”

The Downs brothers played high school ball at Bibb County for coach Darrell Hobson.

Drew went on to play at the University of Montevallo, while Matt tried to fill his brother’s shoes for Bibb County.

Matt started as a sophomore and was a three-year letterman for the Choctaws, winning a Class 4A state championship his junior season in 2001.

After graduation, he played one season for Bobby Sprowl at Shelton State, where he played in 38 games and hit .378 with three home runs and 31 RBIs.

On the mound, he appeared in 11 games, going 1-0 with four saves and a 4.15 ERA.

Sprowl gave Downs the confidence to dream big.

“Matt was very similar to another player I had in Russ Davis that made it to the majors,” Sprowl said. “Matt had a lot of the same tools. The arm strength, running ability, third base body type and both could drive the ball.

“What separated Matt was his work ethic. Matt is a guy who liked to play the game.”

Davis, from Hueytown, spent eight seasons in the majors with three teams (New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and ironically enough, the San Francisco Giants).

While Downs concentrated on his hitting at Shelton State, it was his pitching ability that caught the eye of Alabama coach Jim Wells.

Wells snagged Downs after his freshman season to bolster the Crimson Tide’s bullpen.

His sophomore season Downs logged just 27 at-bats, while spending most of his time pitching out of the bullpen. His junior year he had no plate appearances and worked 292⁄3 innings.

After that season, Downs was in a tailspin and he knew of only one way to get out of it. He went to Wells and asked to play third base.

“After each season, I have meetings with each of the guys one-on-one,” Wells said. “Matt came in and said, ‘Coach, I feel like I’d like to give third base a shot.’

“He played that at Shelton. I said, ‘OK.’ In the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘I wish he would stick with pitching.’

“But I gave him the opportunity not thinking what happened would happen. He goes out there, and he has a great arm. He won the position.

“He was hitting under .200 for the first half of the year and then just kicked it into gear after that. He was a great team leader and my son’s favorite player because his uniform was always dirty.

“It’s not your usual path to the big leagues.”

That one decision, on top of his work ethic and drive, changed Downs’ life.

“I went to (Wells’) office and told him I think I can help in the field,” Downs said. “If you don’t think I can help maybe I need to go somewhere else. He gave me a shot in the fall and he told me I earned it.

“If I don’t go to Coach Wells, I’m probably pitching that year and seeing limited action. If I pitch that year, my career is probably over. It changed my career completely.”

That season turned out to be a golden one for Downs and the Crimson Tide.

Alabama went 44-21 in 2006, claiming a share of the regular season SEC Championship with Kentucky. The Tide hosted and won the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional and advanced and hosted the Super Regional.

In 64 games, Downs batted .298 with 75 hits, 52 runs scored, seven home runs and 62 RBIs.

He was drafted in the 36th round by the Giants and started off in the Arizona League, ranking second in the league with 16 doubles. He hit .310 with 29 RBIs in 46 games.

In 2007, he played at Short-Season Salem-Keizer, where he was named the Northwest League Most Valuable Player after hitting .338, eight home runs and 48 RBIs in 73 games.

Last year was his breakout season as he was named a California League postseason All-Star for Class A Advanced San Jose. He hit .304 with 17 homers and 75 RBIs in 109 games.

From there he advanced to Triple-A Fresno, where he spent the rest of the 2008 season until being called up on Tuesday.

“Let’s face it. I was behind the eight ball coming out of college to start with,” Downs said. “I got no money in the draft. I played a year in rookie ball with a short season the next.

“I had to make my own breaks. I knew if I didn’t play well they were going to release me.

“I look around now and I see a big league clubhouse that can’t be compared with anything else. I have a locker that’s bigger than anything I’ve ever been in.

“I don’t want to blow this chance.”

Matt’s family is cutting its Gulf Shores vacation short to fly in to San Francisco for this weekend’s series against the Texas Rangers.

“It’s the best reason I can think of to cut a vacation short,” John Downs said.

It will be nice to see familiar faces again, Matt Downs said.

“I don’t usually play well when my parents are in the stands. I never get a hit,” he said. “Hopefully, I can play better this time around. If not, I hope it’s a short stay for them.”
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:02 PM   #63
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Thanks. That is one motivated young man.
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:10 AM   #64
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1-3 and a walk tonight. Hitting .333 since the call-up.
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:59 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wxwax
1-3 and a walk tonight. Hitting .333 since the call-up.


Yeah, pretty soon I'll be back to hating the Giants.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:03 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by wxwax
1-3 and a walk tonight. Hitting .333 since the call-up.
And one stolen base also. 2nd to 3rd when Randy Johnson distracted them.
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Old 06-21-2009, 08:41 PM   #67
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Bochy: "He's our second baseman right now."

1 for 3 today w/ a walk. 0 for 4 yesterday though.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Four games into his Major League career, Matt Downs is just trying to slow things down.

"It's just flown by," said Downs, who was called up by the Giants on Tuesday and started every game since at second base. "I need to start getting a little more comfortable at the plate. The ball is a little faster, the crowd, the atmosphere.

"The game is fast the first couple of days."

Downs said his Spring Training experience this year has eased his adjustment from Triple-A Fresno to San Francisco.

"Nothing has shocked me," he said.

He has three hits in his first 13 Major League at-bats, two of which he collected Wednesday against former Fresno teammate Matt Palmer of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Downs' defense has disguised his outs at the plate. He backhanded a would-be ground-ball single in the 10th inning of Saturday's extra-inning win over the Texas Rangers.

"You're always told in baseball if you're not doing it at the plate, make sure you do it with your glove," he said.

With Emmanuel Burriss learning to lead off in the Minor Leagues and the hot-hitting Kevin Frandsen eligible to be called up Monday, manager Bruce Bochy said no changes are in store for the Giants' middle infield. Bochy added that he was impressed with Downs' quality of at-bats.

"He's handled himself very well," the manager said. "He's our second baseman right now."

While Juan Uribe will also see time at second base once his hamstring has fully healed, Bochy keeps writing Downs' name in the lineup. On Sunday, in the Giants' series finale against the Rangers, he was slated to bat seventh.

"To get thrown in the fire like that is awesome," Downs said.
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:11 AM   #68
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Driving back from Colorado on Sunday. Had taken my folks and nieces to the Rocks/Pittsburgh for Father's Day...

Caught a bit of the Giants game on XM. The announcers had good things to say about Matt. Basically 'He has good balance in the batters box... is patient... doesn't chase...'

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Old 06-23-2009, 09:12 AM   #69
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Yeah, pretty soon I'll be back to hating the Giants.
Could Matt Downs be the Cure for the stigma that is Barry Bonds?


Maybe so.

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Old 06-28-2009, 02:42 PM   #70
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Could Matt Downs be the Cure for the stigma that is Barry Bonds?


Maybe so.

Jurgen
It's been a tough couple of days - not hitting well, balls not falling. He did, however, have his first major league HOME RUN today!

I'm not sure how patient the team will be however. Another hit today would be nice.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:19 PM   #71
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Video here.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:58 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by k7
It's been a tough couple of days - not hitting well, balls not falling. He did, however, have his first major league HOME RUN today!

I'm not sure how patient the team will be however. Another hit today would be nice.
Looks like I might be in Colo in late August, to ride- see family and see the Dodgers-Rockies... May push it up a day to watch San Fran v Rocks if he is still up.

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Old 06-28-2009, 09:08 PM   #73
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another one to watch

Has a shady past, but this guy can really hit the ball. I bet he's in the majors in no time. You heard it here first. Ramirez, keep your eye on him.





Short and Second lost their flock.










Manny played two at Bats- Walked, then a weak ass grounder to Short. Rain stopped at about the same time he did... turned into a beautiful night for baseball.

Game ended up with the Topes losing in 15 innings. We stayed until 10
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:26 AM   #74
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Video here.


He got around the basepath the way a first-timer should - respectfully, swiftly. It's one of the unwritten rules of baseball etiquette.

Well done, young man.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:28 AM   #75
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Manny played two at Bats- Walked, then a weak ass grounder to Short. Rain stopped at about the same time he did... turned into a beautiful night for baseball.


How dare you sully this pristine thread with such a vulgar reference?

How dare you?
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