Mike Yastrzemski

BoMel's patience with Yaz paying off just as Giants head to Fenway

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Yastrzemski has a two-year-old daughter and one-month-old son at home, so as he stood at his locker on Sunday morning and talked about the Giants' upcoming trip back to Boston, it wasn't hard to come up with a game plan for the team's day off on Monday. 

"Probably sleep more than anything," he said, smiling.

Yastrzemski does plan to visit his hometown of Andover, located about 30 minutes from Fenway Park, at some point, but otherwise this visit should be a lot more laid-back than the one in 2019. Back then, Yastrzemski was just a few months into his MLB life, but his visit to Fenway was a huge deal. He walked the outfield grass with his grandfather, Carl, before the first game and the two combined for a memorable first pitch. In his third plate appearance at his hometown park, he hit a home run to dead center.

Yastrzemski said he's not sure if his grandfather will be at Fenway Park for this second visit, and while it's always special for him to go back home, the focus this time is on resting and trying to continue to find his swing. On that latter front, there was more progress Sunday. 

Yastrzemski homered in the third inning of Sunday's 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, capping a successful homestand for a veteran who looked lost for much of April. He was hitting .121 with a .358 OPS and zero extra-base hits when the Giants returned from their week in Florida, but the overall numbers are a lot closer to his normal production after he went 9-for-22 with two homers and eight RBI. 

Yastrzemski felt he was pressing early on, but he has been more patient with his approach over the past week or so. That resulted in a stretch that Bob Melvin kept insisting was on the way. The manager never wavered in early April when asked about his struggling right fielders, saying repeatedly that better days were ahead. 

"To continue to run me out there, I've got to thank BoMel and all the hitting coaches for just sticking with it because they trusted it and knew that I would be able to eventually trust my process and get back to where I needed to be," Yastrzemski said. "It's still not perfect -- no one is ever going to be perfect. But it's a work in progress and at least it's a more comfortable place to continue working from."

The stretch was a relief for Yastrzemski, who felt like he was having some good at-bats and not being rewarded on the last road trip. And the timing couldn't be better as the Giants head back East. 

"You always want to play well regardless, especially in front of friends and family and stuff like that," he said of the Fenway trip. "Hopefully I'll just keep it rolling and start feeling better."

The hot streak solidified half of a platoon that has been a glaring weakness for most of the season. Even with Yastrzemski's strong homestand, Giants right fielders are 25th in MLB in wRC+ and have combined for just two extra-base hits.

While Yastrzemski has finally gotten going, Austin Slater is still looking for his own breakthrough. Slater is batting just .103, but Melvin hasn't lost faith. He watched one right fielder come around, and now he'll wait for the other one. 

"His at-bats aren't terrible. He's drawing his share of walks. The first time up (on Saturday) he hits the ball (104 mph) on the ground. He doesn't look overmatched, doesn't look off-balance," Melvin said of Slater. "I think he has just been a little bit unlucky and he's a guy that is patient and gets deeper into counts, and a lot of times even though you don't get a hit you make a pitcher work and set it up for the next guy. I'm certainly not at that point (of losing patience). 

"He knows how to lead off. He's been good at it. We're talking about less than a month at this point."

Melvin has avoided big changes throughout these somewhat disappointing first 29 games. There have been subtle moves, shifting players up and down the lineup -- a slumping Jorge Soler hit sixth over the weekend, for instance -- but it has been the same starters just about every day. The Giants have never seemed close to making a change in their outfield, even with Heliot Ramos off to a hot start in Triple-A. Their preference is to let the 24-year-old try and keep that run going for a couple of months before having deeper conversations, and the same is true with 22-year-old Luis Matos. 

The patience is paying off with Yastrzemski, who in recent days has deepened an inconsistent lineup. He said he is looking forward to trying to keep the momentum going back home, although it will be hard for him to beat the memories from his first visit. The walk-off grand slam off Josh Hader two years ago is his favorite big league homer, but that blast at Fenway isn't far behind.

"It's definitely up there," Yastrzemski said. "It's hard to beat walk-offs and stuff like that, but that one (in Boston) was pretty special. The first time I've played there, the first game I've played there, having the first pitch -- that was cool. It was probably (in the) top three or four, for sure."

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