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How Conner Menez is handling a sudden national spotlight


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


His next start might have taken place about 90 miles away, on a mound in Sacramento with maybe 9,000 pairs of eyes on him.

Instead, it’ll be on a San Francisco mound with closer to 2 million fans watching his every move. How’s that for a third career start?

Conner Menez, who said his phone has been blowing up with messages, was less worried about his own nerves and more about his family’s, who are “probably freaking out about it,” the rookie told KNBR. “They haven’t told me that. Don’t want to freak me out maybe or something like that. But they’ve always been excited for me.”

Menez, from Hollister, will face off in the series finale Sunday with the Phillies, on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” at Oracle Park having stayed in the rotation a turn. He went six five-run innings Tuesday for an organization that is volleying both starters and relievers between the minors and majors. In the rotation, really only Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija are safe.

The lefty said he found out he would be getting the ball on Twitter; it was never officially told to him, but he was never told to go to back to Sacramento. So he stayed.

If he wants to stick in the rotation, he will have to do better than his start against Washington, which had come on the heels of another Sacramento start. He’s easily seeing the difference between the two levels.

“Obviously, these hitters are a lot better hitters than Triple-A. I mean they’re still really good hitters down there,” Menez said Saturday. “But especially my last game, [the Nationals] had a really good eye. I’m missing by inches in the strike zone. I’m trying to adjust to umpires, I”m trying to adjust to hitters, I’m trying to adjust as [hitters are] patient and trying to find their pitch. It’ll be good to challenge me and help me down the road.”

The 24-year-old is trying to learn on the fly, with a lot flying through his mind, with a team that is now competing for a playoff spot. The Giants enter play four games back and fading.

To help him adjust is his “best friend,” Shaun Anderson, who’s helped guide him and told him to trust his stuff. Meanwhile, his manager, Bruce Bochy, cited his major league-playing grandfather, Bill Plummer, as reason Menez can handle “Sunday Night Baseball.” It’s in his blood.

“[Menez] had a good feel for the game in the majors leagues even before he got here,” Bochy said Saturday.

However Menez pitches, a lot of people will see the results.

“It’s honestly a huge blessing, just to have another start,” Menez said.

 

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