a Giant task
The Waipahu alum wants to win
his first start and hopes his dad
can watch him play this season
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. » San Francisco Giants pitcher Jerome Williams has two immediate goals during spring training -- to work hard so he can win his first regular-season start on April 9 and for his father to be well enough to fly up from Hawaii to see him pitch this season.
The goals are intertwined.
The Waipahu High School graduate returned last week from Hawaii, where his father, Glenn, who needed a new kidney and liver, had successful transplant surgery at St. Francis Medical Center.
In an interview Monday, Williams conceded that with all that's going on in his life, it's been tough to stay focused on baseball.
But it's what his father wants him to do.
"I have to be a man about it," Williams said.
When he first returned home before the surgery, Williams said he broke down when he saw his father's condition.
His dad told Williams to "get the hell out of here; go back and play baseball," the 23-year-old pitcher said.
"I understood what he meant," Williams said. "He didn't want me to worry."
His father's message -- be strong.
"I was just being a son," Williams continued. "I wasn't being a baseball player."
The baseball player and the youngest son in him are trying to be on the same page now, trying to win for his father.
When you're the baby in the family, you worry about your parents, Williams said.
But his father and his mother raised him to be strong to deal with the adversity life sometimes brings.
"It's what my mom wanted me to do, what my dad wanted me to do -- be a strong young man," he said.
Williams has had to persevere over illness and death for much of his young life.
When he was 19, his mother Deborah died from breast cancer, before he made it to the majors.
Williams wears a puka-shell necklace in games in her honor and as a reminder of where he is from.
While he was growing up, Williams' father, a Pearl Harbor carpenter, suffered a freak injury that left him disabled.
His father is doing better now after the surgery, Williams said. They talk regularly on the phone.
His older brothers are taking care of their father here. That's their job.
Williams said his job is be a better baseball player. He started yesterday for only the third time this spring, giving up two earned runs in five innings to earn his first win. In his first outing on March 5, before his father's surgery, Williams gave up five runs in the first inning.
He pitched Saturday for the first time after his return from Hawaii and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Williams said he knows he has to work hard and stay healthy to have a good season as the fifth man in the Giants' rotation.
He had elbow surgery last summer and seems to be recovered. Williams spent most of the offseason in Fresno, working out and trying to resist the temptations of Hawaiian and Filipino food favorites.
He entered spring training about 40 pounds lighter than last year.
"It's tough," Williams said.
His metabolism isn't the same as when he was a teenager. So he tries to resist the temptation and stay in shape. He's working on his control and keeping the ball low, trying to stay focused on the game. He wants a win in that first start in the regular season.
And when Williams steps on the mound against the Colorado Rockies on that Saturday in SBC Park, he will be throwing as if his father's life depends on it.