Giants' Ahmed finds success at plate simply by being himself

Giants' Ahmed finds success at plate simply by being himself originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Nick Ahmed was a bit disappointed when his bases-loaded line drive off the left field wall was ruled foul Monday at Oracle Park. Rather than get caught up in his emotions, the Giants shortstop remained calm and locked in, then hit a two-out sharp grounder up the middle that drove in two runs to put San Francisco in front for good.

It would have been easy and understandable had Ahmed got lost in thought after the foul call, but his ability to remain locked in during the eventual 5-2 win was an encouraging sign for a Giants offense that has been uneven throughout the first month of the season.

"You just try to control your heart rate, your breathing and slow your thoughts down,” Ahmed explained to NBC Sports Bay Area. “You do everything you can to get back in the moment as quick as possible, and you don’t forget what happened. Just try to get a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and just be ready for that.”

Ahmed also hit into a double play in the fourth then reached on a bunt in the sixth, raising his batting average to a very respectable .296.

Ahmed’s resurgence at the plate came after he and the Giants all got off to a sluggish offensive start to the season. Through the team’s first eight games, the 34-year-old two-time Gold Glove winner had not driven in a run and was hitting barely above the Mendoza Line at .208.

Since then, Ahmed has been sizzling at the plate. In his last 15 games, Ahmed is batting .340 (16-for-47) and has knocked in five runs.

He has done it while batting at or near the bottom of the Giants’ lineup.

His two-run single off Mets starter Jose Quintana in the second inning Monday provided a nice spark for a team that had been held to five hits or fewer in two of its previous three games.

“We’ve had our share of big hits, maybe not as many as we would like, but early in the game to have that kind of lead, it’s been a while,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Or we just don’t do it enough.”

Like many of his teammates, Ahmed didn’t get caught up or overly concerned with how things were going for him early in the season. While he wanted to make a good impression on his new team, Ahmed knew that things eventually would work out both for himself and the Giants.

“You obviously want to start out hot as a team and individually, but it didn’t really happen for us,” Ahmed said. “We’ve got guys that have played this game for a long time. We understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”

Ahmed has had to battle more than just opposing pitchers during his first year in San Francisco after being a non-roster invitee and beating out heralded prospect Marco Luciano in spring training.

When he was named the Giants’ starter, Ahmed stepped into the position that previously had been manned by three-time MLB All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Crawford. Crawford gained legendary status during his 13 seasons at Oracle Park.

So, it wasn’t so simple as signing with a new team and just playing shortstop. Ahmed replaced one of the most popular players in franchise history.

He knew that going in but didn’t look at it that way. As he has tried to do throughout his career with the Atlanta Braves and later the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ahmed has tried to keep things in perspective.

“I got to play against Craw for a long time,” Ahmed said. “Obviously a phenomenal player and a huge part of this franchise, did some amazing things for this team. I’m not trying to replace him or be him or do anything like that. I’m just trying to come in and play my game and help our team as much as I can every night.

“You can't try to be somebody you’re not. You just got to bring what you’re good at to the table every day and try to help the team win a game. When you don’t play well and you struggle, you look at it and try to get better. It’s never trying to be somebody you’re not.”

Ahmed definitely is being himself, and right now for the Giants, that’s all he needs to do.

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