MLB: Giants closer Wilson say he feels 'perfect'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — With wild hair that goes in many directions and tattoos on his upper arms, Brian Wilson looks like a member of a rock band. He moves to the beat of his own drum.
On the baseball field, however, the closer for the San Francisco Giants is a solid teammate. The only evidence of his independence is the shock of hair that peeks from the back of his cap.
The right-hander had 41 saves that earned him his first All-Star appearance in 2008, his first full season, and followed that up with 38 more in 2009. That earned him a hefty raise of nearly $4 million when he signed a one-year deal worth $4.437 million in January to avoid arbitration.
According to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, Wilson has earned every penny.
“Willie has emerged as one of the better relievers in the game,” Bochy said.
“He worked on a change-up last year. He’s gotten better. He’s a horse. This is a closer where I can use him an inning-plus. He threw two, even three (innings). He is strong and is working on his other pitches, too. That will make him even that much more effective. It’s great to have a closer like this, being able to use him as much as I did last year.”
That’s fine with Wilson, who will turn 28 on March 16.
He has thrown two bullpen sessions this spring and was to face hitters for the first time on Wednesday.
“Physically, mentally, I feel perfect,” he said.
As for having a closer “mentality,” he said that is a buzzword.
“People believe what they want to believe, but the fact is, every pitcher ultimately has to get three outs. It’s ’rinse and repeat,’ keep doing the same thing, whether it’s the first inning or the last.”
There are times when a closer will create even more trouble than he originally was called upon to escape.
“You have to eliminate those bad innings. If you’re going to give up a run, make sure it’s just one and not four,” he said. “You have to do whatever you can to not let the other team dictate how you pitch.”
He acknowledged there are occasions when he can get a bit too excited.
“He’s really intense. I go out and calm him down,” said catcher Bengie Molina.
Molina said the more Wilson pitches, the better he will become, that he is on the doorstep of becoming one of the game’s best.
“It is an honor for other people to pay attention to you like that,” Wilson said. “That’s why you play the game, to give the fans what they came for.”