Maxwell keeps family together, adds big bat, glove in right

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Justin Maxwell's 5-year-old daughter, Liana, waits anxiously outside the San Francisco Giants' clubhouse for her father, long after the little girl's bedtime.

There is no such thing as a regular schedule for the right fielder's three children these days, and that's just how he and wife Loren want it. They decided to stick together as a family for the entire baseball season, and that means their kids are operating on a baseball schedule: They watch night games at AT&T Park, often get to bed sometime just before midnight, then sleep in until late morning.

It works for them, and Maxwell has provided plenty of memorable moments on the field so far filling in for the injured Hunter Pence.

''Family's everything,'' Maxwell said. ''To have my family be able to go through these life experiences with me in all the different cities that we've been in, it's great. It's something they'll never forget. It's something I'll obviously never forget as well.''

They're together, rather than living on opposite coasts. The decision came after Loren's 17-year-old cousin, Claire, was killed in a car accident in February. That only further put life into perspective.

In right field, the Giants haven't lost a beat with Pence on the disabled list recovering from a fractured left forearm. The gutsy Maxwell makes diving catches and even crashed into the right-field wall making a great grab in foul territory. His children get to watch live, night after night.

Thanks to their school back in Maryland, they could make this happen.

New Life Christian School in Frederick allowed Loren to home school her kindergartener son, 6-year-old Jaidon, for the remainder of the school year after baseball began. Loren receives Jaidon's curriculum and sends it back every couple of weeks.

''We were blessed to find a school that recognizes the value of family and life experiences our children gain by living the baseball life,'' Loren said. ''It's a tough choice to travel or stay behind - one that every family in baseball must make. For us being a family comes first. If (the loss) taught us anything it's that time is the most precious gift we have.''

Jaidon and little brother, 3-year-old Jett, are regulars running around the clubhouse whenever they can get inside to see their father.

The 31-year-old journeyman made the Giants' 25-man roster out of spring training then earned himself a regular job. He has also played for Washington, Houston and Kansas City. His young family has seen much of the country already.

''The only way for a family to stay together is for them to be together,'' Maxwell said. ''We talked before the season this year and just made it a point that no matter where I was going to be we were always going to be together for the whole year.''

When Maxwell arrived at Scottsdale Stadium for spring training in February, Pence approached him with some encouraging words - one of the first new teammates to say hello.

''He told me I was going to help this team before he got hurt,'' Maxwell recalled. ''It just speaks to his character. Normally you'll see a player competing for the same position and kind of make it a competition and you don't really get to know the other player. He came up to me and told me he was pumped to have me on the team.''

Maxwell is not the only one to keep his kids close, either. Reliever Jeremy Affeldt's second-grade son, Walker, receives regular tutoring so he and his two little brothers, who aren't in elementary school, and their mother can stay in San Francisco with their dad during the season.

Maxwell, batting .241 with three homers and 14 RBIs, drew a walk on a 10-pitch at-bat against the Marlins on May 8. It's those little things that have kept him on the field. Not bad for a guy the Giants had considered an extra outfielder or someone who could start against left-handed pitchers.

''He's played himself into a bigger role than that,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ''Going back to spring training, the early go, he was trying to get his timing because he missed a lot of time, he had the hip surgery. He came on like gangbusters. He made the club with his play there from the middle part to the end of spring training. Then he played his way into a starting role. That's how good he's been. Defensively, he's got all the tools to really be an elite player.''

When Pence returns, Bochy insists he will be creative to make sure Maxwell continues to get his chances to contribute.

''When Hunter comes back, who knows what's going to happen,'' Maxwell said, ''but I'll always be prepared because National League baseball you can always be in there. I'll keep that mentality and keep having fun.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.