SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the Giants’ bullpen and catching coach, Craig Albernaz’s responsibilities primarily include working with the backstops and making sure the club’s relievers are fully prepared when they enter games.
This spring, he was tasked with carrying out another key function for the team: Serving as the voice of Giants PitchCom, an electronic device used to transmit signals from the catcher to the pitcher. It’s a constant source of amusement for the Giants considering Albernaz -- a native of Fall River, Mass. -- is known for his thick Boston accent.
“SLYDAH, SLYDAH, BACKFOOT,” said catcher Blake Sabol, mimicking Albernaz’s voice. “When I was getting quizzed by my fiancée, she was like, ‘Did you change the accent on this thing?’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s my catching coach.’”
“That was pretty funny, the first time putting that on and hearing that,” pitching prospect Tristan Beck said. “It’s like, ‘I know exactly who that is.’ I was talking to a buddy of mine, a pitcher with another organization, and he said they just have like, not Siri, but very standard voice recognition stuff. I’m like, ‘Oh no, we’ve got our big Boston, big personality guy in there.’ Right in your ear. It’s way better.”
“Oh my gosh,” right-hander Anthony DeSclafani said. “It’s so hilarious. I don’t know if they’re going to change it for the regular season, but I don’t know, I kind of like it.”
The Giants used director of video coaching Fernando Perez as their PitchCom voice last year, but Albernaz had to step in and complete the recordings during a strength and conditioning camp in January to ensure the club had the customized version it wanted in time for Spring Training.
Albernaz told a few players they’d be hearing his voice on PitchCom, but his distinct verbal cues still elicited delight from the team during the early stages of Giants camp.
“I don’t think they believed me,” Albernaz said. “When Joc [Pederson] was hearing it the first day on the field, it was pretty funny. He was like, ‘I can’t understand what you’re saying.’ ‘You’ll get used to it, you’ll get used to it.’ But yeah, the boys love it.”
“He’s the most fun accent to play with,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s an incredible sport, so it doesn’t feel like really making fun of him. It’s more like we get to enjoy his accent.”
Albernaz probably won’t be in the Giants’ ears all year, as he said Perez is expected to record a new streamlined version that the club is planning to use during the regular season. There might still be a touch of his accent in there, though.
“I think we’re going to have Fernando do it because he has a professional setup, so it makes sense,” Albernaz said. “We might keep some of them -- like slider and cutter -- for the boys.”