NAPA, Calif. -- Patrick Bailey's rookie 2023 MLB season was one of the Giants' few bright spots last year, and the young catcher hopes to be even better in 2024.
With Giants pitchers and catchers set to report to Scottsdale on Feb. 15, Bailey heads to Arizona as the team's starting catcher after establishing himself as one of the best young backstops in the game last season. The 24-year-old was a finalist for the NL Gold Glove at the position, losing to Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno.
In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday at Giants Fan Fest, Bailey described how special it was to be a finalist for the award, something he views as a standard for himself year in and year out.
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"To be able to be recognized as one of the top defenders, obviously that's special and every year I want to show up and look to put my best foot forward, and hopefully that is the standard and that's definitely the standard I set for myself," Bailey told NBC Sports Bay Area.
Toward the end of the 2023 season, Bailey spoke candidly about how the MLB grind caught up with him, telling reporters he experienced fatigue he'd 'never felt before.' One of Bailey's goals this offseason was to better prepare himself for the upcoming 162-game marathon.
"One of the biggest emphases was kind of getting the strength back I lost during the season and then kind of simplifying my left-handed swing, trying to work on my lower half there and just be able to repeat that as much as I can," Bailey said.
No longer a bright-eyed rookie, Bailey, as most catchers do, very quickly became a leader of the Giants' pitching staff. Heading into his second season with a prominent starting role already locked up, Bailey kept in touch with his pitchers throughout the offseason, but primarily was focused on improving his own game, knowing he will have plenty of time to further those connections in spring training.
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"I've been keeping in touch with some of the guys and seeing how they were doing and whatnot," Bailey shared. "Obviously, I'm still trying to put the best product I can on the field. And a lot of those relationships with [Jordan] Hicks and Robbie Ray will be built in camp catching pens and whatnot, and seeing what [Logan Webb] and the other guys are doing and see if they got anything new for me. But we'll probably get all that stuff ironed out in camp."
Perhaps a few of the pitchers Bailey knows the best are young arms like Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck, who also were rookies last season and could see time in the Giants' starting rotation with Cobb and Ray sidelined for the first half of the campaign. Bailey knows the three youngsters will rise to the occasion in whatever role they are used.
"I've got all the confidence in the world in all three of those guys," Bailey said. "I mean, all three of them showed they can be very successful in the big leagues. As I experienced and a lot of young guys experienced, you see some success and you see some failure. I think both of those are vital. The success they had should boost their confidence and be like, 'Alright I belong here, I can pitch here.' And the failure they had is, 'All right, how can I get better and what can I do to progress my game and help the guys out?' "
While the Giants' roster still has a handful of question marks, Bailey is not one of them. His role is clear, and San Francisco will need his reliable presence behind the plate for the entirety of the 2024 season.