Belt Q&A: Ex-Giant addresses free-agency departure, facing old team

Belt Q&A: Ex-Giant addresses free-agency departure, facing old team originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

TORONTO -- After Brandon Belt finished a session with Giants media on Tuesday afternoon, a local Blue Jays reporter asked him to explain how he ended up riding into Oracle Park on a boat last April.

Belt certainly left his mark on the Giants, on and off the field, but in the offseason he was forced to move on, signing a one-year, $9.3 million contract with the Blue Jays. It has worked out well for all parties.

The Giants wanted to open up a spot for LaMonte Wade Jr., who has played All-Star-caliber baseball at first base. Belt got off to a slow start in Toronto but then got hot, the pattern of his career. Teammates showered him with “MVP” chants one night and Blue Jays fans have come to embrace one of the game’s funniest players.

Both teams are in contention, too, making this an important three-game series. Before the start of it, Belt sat down to talk about free agency, his replacement, the other Brandon and much more:

On facing his old team …

“It’s definitely weird … baseball is strange sometimes, this is a weird feeling but I’m happy to see them and I’m glad a bunch of the wives came into town so that my wife can say hi to them. It’s going to be fun.”

What have your texts with Brandon Crawford been like?

“He went to Niagara Falls and saw a bunch of captain hats there. He just assumed I made them put them in the stores. I said I didn’t, they just felt the need to do it.”

On facing Logan Webb, who turned into the ace while he was in San Francisco …

“It’s going to be tough. He’s a good pitcher and I think everybody that watched him come up is proud of the way he has developed. He’s the leader of that staff. It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be cool to face old friends. I’m hoping I hit homers off every one of them. But it’s going to be a tough matchup, for sure.”

Is he following the Giants this year?

"I've definitely been keeping up with them. The good thing about playing on the East Coast is that when you get home their game is coming on. Greyson, my oldest son, loves to watch them, so we get home and we watch a lot of the Giants games.”

Anybody you're looking forward to facing for the first time?

"Probably Webby. Probably Webby. As a competitor in the big leagues, you want to face the best. I consider him one of the best in the game so I think that's going to be a fun matchup."

What about facing Camilo Doval?

"Yeah, that's probably not going to be that fun. I hadn't seen a lot of these guys in live BPs so I have no idea what to expect. I like for the fastballs to be under 95, and even then it's pretty iffy, so it's going to be tough. I know they've got a lot of good arms over there. That was part of our M.O. as a team. It's going to be tough but fun."

On Evan Longoria hitting a homer off Webb last week …

"Did he? I can't let Longo down, either, so I've got to keep that going. I don't want to hurt (Webb’s) feelings. I just want to embarrass his whole family."

When did you come to terms with the fact that your time with the Giants was over?

"I thought there would always be a chance that I'd be going back there. I think really up until the day that I signed with Toronto. It was definitely a weird offseason, to say the least, but I'm happy with the way things turned out. It's baseball. I've played with a lot of guys that have moved on. I've had a lot of my friends go to other teams, so you always know that there's a chance -- in fact, it's likely -- that you won't be with the same team your whole career. It's strange, but I've had a lot of fun over here. I was fortunate enough to get with a really good team with a bunch of really good guys. That's made the transition a lot easier."

On living in Toronto …

"We love the city. I love Canada. I think there's a lot of stuff to do. I love the outdoors of Canada. We haven't done a lot in the city. We try to find stuff to do to keep the kids busy. We've got a really good neighborhood and the kids have a lot of friends over there so we're basically just hanging out with our neighbors all the time."

Are there any bass left in the lakes here?

"I actually went fishing yesterday. Caught all the bass in the lake. Set records. I'm banned from Lake Simcoe here because I didn't leave any for anybody else."

On LaMonte Wade Jr.'s great season at first base for Giants …

"I've definitely been keeping up with LaMonte. I've always been a really big believer in LaMonte because I've seen his approach. I've seen the physical tools he has. He's going to be able to do what he's been doing this year for a long time, so first base in San Francisco is definitely in good hands. I've loved seeing it because the guy is so humble and he cares about his teammates and his teammates care about him, so I know everybody is excited to see him."

Are the chicken tenders at the Ritz-Carlton here still the best?

"I haven't been back to the Ritz recently but I really don't want to go back. I just want to remember them as they were back in 2019 when I ate those chicken tenders. I'm still saying they're the best I've ever had."

On Brandon Crawford using his old locker for his Show Shoes …

"Did he really? You know what, that's embarrassing, first of all, for both of us. He should be ashamed of doing that. In fact, nobody should be in that locker. My jersey should be hanging there forever."

On why he likes the Blue Jays …

"We have a lot of really good personalities on this team and that makes it a lot of fun. Everybody on this team is very team-oriented. It reminds me a lot of the earlier Giants when we won World Series. It was just very close teams and this group of young guys, I don't know if I've seen a group of young guys like we have here that has put in the work like they do and they have the same goal in mind of just getting to the World Series and playing team baseball. That's been a lot of fun."

Does The Captain have a leadership role here?

"For me, nothing was any different. My job wasn't to come here and make this my team. The other guys have been here for a lot longer and we've got a great core of baseball players and this is their team. I wanted to be able to come in here and help any way I could because, just like them, I want to win a World Series again. I think I try to be a leader in the clubhouse and out on the field, but for the most part you let this core group take care of this team the way they want to take care of it and I'll share my experience any way I can to help the team."

Did he see Bruce Bochy when the Blue Jays faced the Rangers?

"I was injured when we went there so they had me doing stuff 24-7. I tried to wave at him like a million times from the dugout and he never looked over there. I didn't get to talk to him face to face, but hopefully I can when they come here."

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