Hard Choices: San Francisco Giants' Bruce Bochy
Coming into this season, we were optimistic. We felt we had a team that could contend and a pitching staff that could take us to the post-season.
Like any job, the more you learn, the better manager you become. I was like any young manager when I started out. I was a lot harder on players than I am now. I've learned to be patient: The longer you do this, the more you understand you're going to have critics and second-guessing.
When you're in the World Series, your decisions are going to be looked at closely. The toughest part of a manager's job is when you have to change the role a player's accustomed to having. Telling a starter that he's now going to be on the bench isn't easy. You're not just dealing with egos; you're dealing with good players who are used to going out there every day.
The most difficult decision I made came when I was setting up the playoff pitching roster. Barry Zito is a good pitcher who was instrumental in getting us to the postseason, but I had to leave him off. We went with a four-man rotation, and I felt we had to go with the four pitchers who were throwing the ball the best. I was honest and straightforward with Zito. He understood that he wasn't throwing the ball as well. He held himself accountable, and I admire him for that.
I made some other changes, but I had the personnel who could accept them. Players might not have been happy about it, but they bought into it and did what was best for the team. Aaron Rowand had been our starting center fielder, but Andres Torres got a chance to play every day, and he shined. That relegated Aaron into more of a part-time role. Torres became our lead-off hitter, and that helped change our club.
The beauty of this game is that so many people have played it, watched it, and loved it. Second-guessing comes with the territory, and I'd much rather have second-guessing than apathy. Right now, people are saying that I made good decisions, but it always comes down to the players. My job is to put them in a position where they can succeed. They make the decisions look right.