Manaea hoping offseason adjustments lead to bounce-back season


The Giants have made no secret of the fact they want San Francisco to be a place where veteran pitchers come in order to take the next step, and they've been quite successful with the plan. They are as good as any team at adding pitches, subtracting them, or sharpening them, but they also have helped several longtime big leaguers refine their processes between starts, and Sean Manaea is hoping to be the latest to benefit.

On a Zoom call with reporters Monday, three days after his contract was finalized, Manaea was open and honest about what he needs to do to get back to the levels he reached while in Oakland. There won't be radical changes on the mound for a lefty who basically has been a sinker, changeup, and slider pitcher throughout his big league career, but there will be big changes in the four days between starts. 

Manaea admitted he has at times been "lazy" and "lackadaisical" between starts. A former first-round pick who found success right away in the big leagues, he learned a tough lesson after a trade to the Padres last season. The league adjusted in a big way, saddling Manaea with a 4.96 ERA 
To adjust back, Manaea knows he has plenty of work to do between starts, whether that's with his diet, his conditioning, or his mental preparation. He called the 2022 season "very, very difficult," but is hopeful it will end up being a blessing in disguise.

"As much as it sucks to have the year I had last year, I think going forward it was probably the best thing for me as far as lighting a fire under my butt and really getting my routines down, and I realize that I can't just stay in this game if I'm just going to be lazy," Manaea said. "It's kind of disrespectful to the people that have come before me, that are coming after me ... It really made me realize that I have to put the work in. I have to do the little things that most people don't think about, but if I want to be up here and be the person I know I can be, it's those little things. Last year definitely made me realize all those things."

The Giants have the infrastructure in place to change all of that. In his first camp in charge, manager Gabe Kapler promised that nobody would out-prepare his large staff, and it's a group that is tireless in working with pitchers between appearances, whether that's on the mound, in the weight room or during a stroll in the outfield with the organization's breathing coach, something that was popular with multiple members of last year's rotation. 

Manaea is familiar with what the Giants offer, but his work toward a better 2023 started before he signed a two-year, $25 million contract with an opt-out after the first season. Manaea said he's been working out at Driveline for about a month to improve his mechanics. The facility also is an offseason home for Alex Cobb, who saw improvements in his velocity and stuff in his first season with the Giants. 

"I've just heard a lot of good things and a couple of guys have come through this organization and really figured some things out," Manaea said of the Giants. "The pitching side, with all the little things, the analytical department, the pitch design, all these different things that we're able to use as players, it really makes it easy."

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Manaea was born in Indiana and went to college at Indiana State, not far from where former Giant Carlos Rodón makes his offseason home. While Rodón ultimately went to the East Coast in the offseason, Manaea found the Bay Area drawing him back. His girlfriend is from Oakland and he mentioned multiple times Monday that he appreciates the food scene in the Bay Area. 

If all goes according to plan, he'll have multiple years to further explore. The Giants are hopeful that Manaea and Ross Stripling can give them some of what they lost when Rodón departed, and Manaea is hopeful that San Francisco is the right spot to get a bit more serious about his career and take the next step.

"There's a lot of work to be done and that's the most exciting part," Manaea said. "Just being able to work with this team and get their eyes on me and have them talk to me about some stuff. I'm just excited about that."

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