Injuries and Call Ups

Geez, what a crazy ride it’s been since Madison got injured last Thursday!  I can’t believe how many roster moves have been made.  Some are really sad, but some are super great.  Here’s the list:

  • Chris Marrero was DFA’d. I think we all knew this one was coming as he hadn’t shown the same offense that he did in Spring Training, hitting only .132 in 38 at bats.
  • To replace Marrero (and set off a firecracker under this team), the Giants succumbed to all the pressure and brought up Christian Arroyo from Triple A. This is the move I am most excited about, and I’m sure everyone else is as well.  Management kept saying they wanted to wait for him to have a full year at Triple A, but I guess that just goes to show you how desperate they were to change things up with our dismal start.  He’s playing at third so he can feel comfortable in the bigs, and Eduardo Nunez has been moved out to left field.  Christian’s played in two games so far, and though his bat hasn’t been super hot yet (give the kid some time), he has gotten his first hit (and against Clayton Kershaw no less – nice story he’ll have to tell for the rest of his life), and he did hit a ball in his first game to move Brandon Crawford to third, allowing him to eventually score.  Plus he’s shown some defensive prowess, even throwing out Yasmani Grandal at first after his hit ricocheted off of Matt Cain, sending him to the ground for a front row seat on the play.  I love that the kid went over and picked Cain up!  He’s also got the gift of gab – what Duane Kuiper calls the “6th tool”.  In his post-game interview with Amy G. he told the story of getting called up and just wouldn’t stop!  Amy didn’t have to say anything!  I am so looking forward to what this kid can do for us.
  • Aaron Hill was put on the DL with a right forearm strain. Again, probably won’t see much affect from this because his numbers weren’t that great so far.
  • Denard Span made an amazing catch in the outfield this week, but ended up crashing into a wall and suffering a shoulder sprain. At first he wasn’t put on the DL, but now his shoulder’s been acting up so he was today.  Man, that catch was beautiful!
  • To fill in at center field, Drew Stubbs was called up. He’s played in the last two games and hasn’t logged a hit yet, but he’s done a great job in center field.  We’ll have to see if his bat warms up.
  • Then today, since Span was put on the DL, my boy Michael Morse was called up. YAY!!!!  It happened!!  He made it!!  What a true fantasy this is for this guy.  To think it all started with a conversation with Bobby Evans at Hunter Pence’s wedding.  I bet Hunter is thrilled to have his buddy back.  Can’t wait to see them together in the dugout tonight (though he is not in the lineup).  Hope Michael can bring some pop back to this team.  According to Andrew Baggarly, Morse will help off the bench and start occasionally at first base.  Welcome back, Michael!!  Can’t wait to hear Take On Me again!
  • Chris Stratton was called up to fill the spot left by Madison’s departure. He pitched three innings in relief of Matt Moore in the game where Matt got lit up by the Rockies, and he did an amazing job.  He didn’t allow a hit, allowed only one walk, and tallied 3 strikeouts.  I am really excited about this kid.  He also shows great poise and confidence on the mound.  Looking forward to seeing more of him (and not really sure why he hasn’t come into a game since – maybe since he pitched 3 innings and that’s a lot for a reliever?).
  • Brandon Crawford is on bereavement leave for the next three days so that he can attend services for his sister in law. Apparently the minimum you can take off for such things is three days.  He only needed two, but as it turns out he suffered a groin injury in yesterday’s game and may even end up on the DL when he gets back.  I sure hope not.  I’m so tired of documenting injuries on this team so far!  There are enough guys out!
  • Kelby Tomlinson was called up today to provide some infield help while Brandon’s out. So glad he’s back.  I love that guy and I’m hoping to see a lot of him this season.
  • Finally Matt Cain injured his hamstring in his stellar performance on Monday night. It was so sad that he had to leave after 6 innings while he had been doing so well.  The guy’s numbers for this season are just crazy and so unexpected.  He’s the ace so far this season, with a 2.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in the 4 games he’s pitched.  Who would have thunk?  Thankfully, the x-ray results on the hamstring injury came back negative so he avoided a major injury, but we’ll have to see if he is able to make his next scheduled start.  If not, maybe they can put Stratton in – I love that guy!

 

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath, but your wait is now over.  I have the first spit count of the season for you!  Here you go:

April 22nd

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 6
  • Bochy 4 (all seeds)
  • Nunez 3 (2 of these were seeds)
  • Moore 2
  • Stratton 2
  • Span 1
  • Belt 1
  • Posey 1
  • Reyes 1
  • Meulens 1 (seeds)
  • Panik 1
  • Marrero 1

Rockies:

  • Arenado 4
  • Reynolds 4
  • Story 4
  • LeMahieu 3
  • Senzatela 2
  • Cardullo 2
  • Blackmon 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire (Rob Drake) 14 !!!!!
  • Fan 1
  • Fan 1

Game Spit Master General = Drake at 14

Giants Game Spit Master General = Gillaspie at 6

That’s a total of 60 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 3 minutes.

At first I thought this was the first time an umpire won out as the Game Spit Master General.  Then I seemed to recall the name of said umpire – Rob Drake.  I looked it up, and indeed he was the Game Spit Master General for the game on August 24th, 2012!  And during that game, he logged a whopping 40 spits!  So at least he’s calmed it down a bit!  I kept noticing him lifting his mask and finally realized he was doing it to expel saliva.  Sheesh!  Why does an umpire need to spit??  These were the first fan spits logged in a while – two different guys.  Really??  Matt Moore wins the award for most disgusting spit – one of his ended up mostly on his face, and he wiped it away with his glove!  Blech!  Also noticed during this game that Moore is also a snot rocket launcher – he launched 3 today.  Kudos to Neil Ramirez today – he may have given up 6 runs in one inning during this game (including walking one in), but he didn’t get caught spitting once!  Hoping he keeps up the non-spitting this season (and keeps guys off the bases while doing it).

Going to leave today with a question:  Why does Nick Hundley only wear one shoulder protector behind the plate?  It’s over his right shoulder.  Check it out next time he’s in the lineup.  Anybody have a clue?  Please leave a comment if you know why.  Going to the game on Saturday with my entire family – all 11 of us!  So excited to get to my first game.  The giveaway that day is the two flaps down hat, so I’m hoping to get a picture of all of us together wearing it!  Also hoping that we can take these next two games against the Dodgers.  My boys always seem to rise to the occasion against their arch rivals.  They won Monday, and even though they lost yesterday, they did battle and keep it close (and it was Kershaw after all).  Plus Ty Blach did an amazing job – what a relief that we can count on this kid to get us out of a jam.  Will be cheering them on tonight from my living room.  Come on boys!  You can do it!  Bring us some energy in the clubhouse, Michael!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA!!

Highway (or Dirt Road) to Hell

@#$%&$#%$#$%^%*&^^%$#$#@!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously?  With all the problems we’ve had so far this season, now this???  In case somehow you haven’t heard yet, Madison Bumgarner sustained a sprained left shoulder (yes – left – that would be his pitching arm) and bruised ribs after being involved in a dirt bike accident on his day off in Colorado yesterday.  The Giants have put him on the 10-Day DL, but it’s gotta take a lot longer than that for him to be ready to pitch again.  Seriously?  I am still in shock.  When I heard at work I went on a yelling rampage (luckily it was after school).  Can’t freakin’ believe this.  Why would you take that chance?  I wonder if he normally does stuff that risky on his off days.  Seriously?  And I was about to buy tickets to the Giants vs. Dodgers game on Tuesday because it was scheduled to be a Bumgarner vs. Kershaw matchup and View Reserve Infield tickets are less than $30.  That ain’t gonna happen now!  I am so ticked!!!  Ty Blach is scheduled to take Bumgarner’s place in the rotation on Tuesday.  At least he’s a lefty, and the Dodgers hate lefties.  But he’s not Madison.  GEEEEEEZZ!!!!!  How are we going to get out of the basement with all this craziness going on.  Need to go in a corner and count to 10 and practice my deep breathing.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!!  NO MORE SURPRISES PLEASE!!!

Oh, wait.  Just as I posted this, my sister informed me that the Giants team bus backed into a car on the way to Coors Field.  No mention if there are any injuries or not.  Seriously???  I told you, no more surprises!!!  Why aren’t you listening???  Until the next crazy update, GO GIANTS!!!  STOP THE INSANITY!!!

Rough Start

On paper, it looked like the Giants would have smooth sailing at the beginning of their 2017 season – NL West matchups for the first two weeks against the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies.  Not even any games against the Dodgers.  Who would have predicted that after 13 games they would be sitting at the bottom of the NL West with a 5-8 record?  Not to mention that the Diamondbacks would be at the top of that list?  Craziness!  There have definitely been some exciting moments, but these last couple of weeks have been rough.

Unfortunately, we’ve already suffered some major injuries.  Buster was hit in the head by a 94-mph pitch from the Diamondbacks Taijuan Walker on Monday.  Being extremely careful with any player who potentially has a concussion, he was put on the 7-day concussion DL.  He appears to be doing well, slowly adding his normal baseball activities to his routine, but I’m sure the Giants aren’t going to rush anything.  And that’s the way it should be.  However, this leaves us without our prized catcher for at least a week.  I love Nick Hundley, and he’s really stepped up both offensively and defensively to help the team out with Buster gone, but there’s still that factor of the starting pitchers not being as used to pitching to him.  You wonder how that affects them.  Word is that if everything goes well, Buster will travel with the team to Kansas City and probably be the designated hitter for those games, giving him a longer break away from catching.  And maybe in the long run, having more time pitching to Hundley will be good for the starting rotation.

Then today, there was another devastating injury.  Jarrett Parker raced to make an amazing catch in the outfield, but in the process crashed into the wall and sustained a broken right clavicle.  There’s no estimate yet as to how long he’ll be out, but sheesh!  The guy broke his clavicle!  I’d assume it won’t be any time soon.  And of course, left field has been the position where we’ve been lacking this season.  This sure doesn’t help, especially since recently Parker had been hitting better, going 1 for 2 with a walk on Monday (finally getting his first hit this season), then 2 for 3 with a walk on Wednesday.  WHY???

It will be interesting to see who ends up taking Parker’s place.  Maybe Chris Marrero, the guy that got his first major league homerun yesterday (after 144 plate appearances in the majors), the guy who showed amazing power in the spring, and the guy who ruined Tyler Chatwood’s perfect game in the 6th today when he came in to replace Parker.  He’s also made some beautiful defensive plays.  There’s also Aaron Hill, but he hasn’t been very hot offensively.  Kelby Tomlinson is also a possibility.  Mac Williamson and Michael Morse still aren’t ready to come back.  Then recently the Giants added two more possibilities, signing both to minor league deals:  Melvin (formerly BJ) Upton and Drew Stubbs.  But though both of these guys are great defensively, they are lacking offensively, and isn’t that really what we need over there?  Some pop?  Pop from somewhere?  ANYWHERE??  This whole left field issue is really annoying, like an uninvited house guest that keeps eating all your food.  Yeah.  I don’t like it.  Wonder if Bobby Evans is making some frantic phone calls right now.  I kind of hope so.

Speaking of Melvin Upton, I was wondering why he no longer goes by BJ.  Most people suspected that since he had recently been struggling professionally that he wanted a new start.  But Upton commented, “This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter.  I just wanted to.  My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?”  He also mentioned that most of his friends call him Mel or Melvin anyway, so it’s just natural.  Plus I would imagine having the nickname BJ would be difficult around baseball dugouts (sorry – just had to go there).  Guess Melvin wouldn’t be much easier.  Sorry.

On a much more serious note, we all received some sad news this week – a reminder that tomorrow, no matter how young we are, is never guaranteed.  I found out through an Instagram post that Jalynne Crawford made earlier this week, and even though she didn’t say exactly what happened, you could tell it was terrible.  Jennifer Pippin, Jalynne’s oldest sister, passed away suddenly on Wednesday due to a severe asthma attack.  She leaves behind her husband and two daughters, ages 9 and 6.  What a terrible tragedy for this extremely close family.  Brandon drove down to LA on Wednesday night to be with the family, then drove back on Thursday and even pinch hit in the game that night.  Then Friday, when he hit his homerun, he looked up to the heavens when he crossed home in tribute to her.  After the game, Brandon said (regarding the home run), “That one’s for Jen.  That one’s for my sister in law.  I know she was watching this game tonight.”  AWWW!!  Jalynne has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses here.  Sending my deepest condolences to all of the family members.

Did you folks watch the game on Friday night?  At one point, some of the crowd starting using their flashlights on their phones like you do at a concert.  It really caught on, and soon there were lights around the entire stadium.  The boys must have really loved that!  And they sure responded, piling on hit after hit and scoring 4 runs in the 7th inning.  That was truly beautiful!  I wonder if that will be a thing at night games from now on.  Or could it be a distraction to the pitcher?  Even if it was a distraction, would security be able to stop it?  We’ll have to wait and see.  I personally loved it!

Going to end with some random craziness just because.  First, the other night, Mike Krukow kept saying that Conor Gillaspie was a pig farmer.  He said that’s why he doesn’t wear batting gloves – he builds up calluses on his hands so he doesn’t need them.  I didn’t realize that Conor Gillaspie was a pig farmer, so I Googled it, but nothing came up.  Is he, or was he, really a pig farmer?  Or was Kruk just being a weirdo as usual?  Is pig farmer the nickname of some weird team he played on?  If anyone knows about this, please let me know.  Then there’s this.  This is Yadier Molina, catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, stopping a wild pitch in the most unusual manner ever!  The ball stuck like Velcro to his chest protector!  I have never seen anything like this!  After the game, he denied having put pine tar or any other adhesive on his chest protector to make the ball stick.  Sounds kind of fishy to me.  Even if he had, apparently there’s no rule against it, as long as the sticky stuff is not on the skin or the ball.  Crazy!  Then I noticed last night that the Rockies catcher had a wristband on with codes for play calls.  I had only ever seen one other guy wearing this thing, but apparently they are becoming more popular.  You can even buy them on Amazon.com.  It’s a way for a coach to relay pitches or plays to the catcher with multiple signs (usually numbers) so that the other team can’t pick up on the sign.  For example, the wristband could show 10 different numbers that all mean pitch out.  Always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition.  Personally, I’m sure that would be too complicated to keep track of!

Tomorrow is the last game against the Rockies, then the boys travel to Kansas City to play on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Hoping that Buster can come back healthy by then and the pieces of this team can start working together better.  There have been many moments of promise, but also many cricket-filled innings where you are just waiting for something to happen.  Hoping the spark will come along soon.  You never know where it will come from.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  GET US SOME WINS!!

Bliss and Barf

So, do you want the good news or the bad news first on this Opening Day?  I think I’ll start with the bad so I can end with the good.  And I feel some lists coming on:

Bad List (Barf):

  • Two of the five runs scored today by the Giants were scored by the pitcher. Where’s the power??  Belt, Posey, and Parker were hitless in a hitter’s park.  Granted it was against Greinke, but Buster hits well against Greinke usually.  And Belt and Parker are lefties.
  • Once Madison got into the stretch, the game fell apart. All momentum lost.
  • Pitchers blew saves not once but twice IN A SINGLE GAME!! And one was blown by the guy who was supposed to stop all this.  Andrew Baggarly even predicted it on Twitter – “Don’t forget – you can blow more than one save in a game.”  Thanks, Mr. Jinx.  I love how the abbreviation for blown save in the box score is BS – BECAUSE THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS!!!
  • They didn’t show the National Anthem on TV so I missed out on some of the Opening Day festivity glory. Thanks new NBC Sports Bay Area for robbing me of my hooplah!
  • We lost. We can’t go 162-0 anymore.  Dreams shattered.

Good List (Bliss):

  • Stud muffin Madison Bumgarner took a perfect game into the 6th
  • Madison Bumgarner, the starting pitcher, hit two homeruns. WHAT??  He’s the only pitcher IN MLB HISTORY to ever hit 2 homeruns in an Opening Day game.
  • Madison Bumgarner now has the most career home runs (16) of any Giants pitcher EVER and the most of any current pitcher.
  • Madison Bumgarner has the highest batting average (1.000 – he went 2 for 2 with a walk) and the highest number of homeruns (2) in all of baseball (hey, it’s true!!). Sorry all of this was overshadowed by the loss today, Dude.
  • Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 4 today. He also made a great defensive play, saving extra bases.
  • Though Brandon Belt didn’t get a hit, he did walk twice. Good eye, Kid.
  • Conor Gillaspie came through with a pinch hit RBI – exactly what he was hired to do.  Nice one!
  • Ty Blach and Hunter Strickland pitched really well in relief. There’s hope for that bullpen.
  • Greinke didn’t look great – hopefully it stays that way throughout the season.
  • I actually got to watch my boys play in a game that counted. BASEBALL IS BACK!!

Bliss and barf – if you are a true baseball fan, you have to take the bad with the good.  Guess that’s why we love it so much.  The rollercoaster ride never ends!  Next game is on Tuesday against the D-Backs.  Get some rest, Boys, and shrug this one off.  We know there is more bliss hiding in there somewhere.  You can do it!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  AVENGE MAD BUM!!

PLAY BALL!!

Tomorrow’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!  The baseball drought is over!  It’s time to play ball again!  The National Anthem, hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the cheers, the crazy outfits, the kiss cam, Kruk and Kuip, Tony singing, and my boys in their real Giants uniforms are all back!  The Giants start off their season in Arizona playing the D-Backs – Bumgarner vs. Greinke.  I am thrilled that I can watch my boys regularly again.  Tomorrow’s game will be extra special with all the opening day ceremonies – love ALL of it!!  Planning on spending the entire afternoon in front of the tube on the couch enjoying my boys and the official start of the 2017 season.  That reminds me – I have to get my Beat the Streak picks in!  Wonder which one of my boys matches up well against Greinke.  Hmmmmm… it says Buster, Eduardo Nunez, and Nick Hundley all have batting averages above .300 against him.  Gotta love that!!  Maybe I’ll start my first streak of the season off by picking Buster!  Are you all going to be watching along with me?

I wanted to see what the final 25-man roster is, but it hasn’t been updated on the sfgiants.com site yet.  I found an article that says they are still making some last-minute tweaks.  It did answer a question about who will be the 5th starter, though.  Matt Cain has earned that job over rookie Ty Blach, though Blach will be on the 25-man roster as a long relief option.  He may also see some time as a lefty specialist since the team lost Will Smith to a season ending elbow injury.  Kelby Tomlinson, Albert Suarez, and Josh Osich were optioned to Triple A.  The five backup position players will be Nick Hundley (catcher), Conor Gillaspie (infield), Gorkys Hernandez (outfield), Aaron Hill (infield), and the surprise of the Spring, Chris Marrero.  Marrero can play in the outfield or also at first base.  Marrero wowed his way onto the team with his power bat – he finished tied for second in homeruns this spring in all of baseball.  His defense is a little lacking, but I am so excited to see some pop in the lineup.  He will form a platoon in left field with Jarrett Parker who also showed promise in the spring.  Marrerro’s kind of similar to Michael Morse – not the greatest defender, but a powerful bat.  And though my boy Michael Morse will not be on the 25-man roster due to an injury he sustained during spring training, there is talk that he will be rehabbing in an attempt at possibly joining the team later in the season.  He also had a great spring and impressed the big wigs enough that they are still considering him.  So very happy for him!  Do your work and get back with us soon, Michael!  Hunter misses you!  Once Morse or Mac Williamson are healthy again, they would probably replace Marrero in the outfield (unless Marrero gets super hot – you never know!).

Had a fantastic time at Spring Training in Arizona last month.  I went with my brothers Nick and Paul and my sister Kathleen.  We always have a great time on our trips because we’re all pretty mellow and just go with the flow.  We watched 3 games in 4 days – all away games.  I actually plan our trips that way because away games are so much cheaper.  It’s always fun to watch the new kids and see the old familiar faces.  And being in a ballpark again is always fabulous!  We went to Surprise for the first time this year, and the ball park was really nice – a bit further out than most but not too bad.  I have to say that I’ve really liked all the Spring Training ballparks we’ve ever been to.  Besides Scottsdale Stadium, my favorite is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (plus I love that name!).  We watched the Giants play the D-Backs there this year (a preview of tomorrow’s game).  Gregor Blanco started for the D-Backs – it was so nice to see him out there, even if it wasn’t for the Giants.  He did really well in that game, and he does have a minor league deal with them, but he won’t be starting in the bigs due to a strained oblique.  Hope he heals quickly so he can join the team – love that guy and wish him all the best.  Besides games this year, we also adventured to a couple of new spots in Arizona – South Mountain Park and Papago Park.  We drove to the top of South Mountain Park and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Phoenix area and beautiful dessert.  At Papago Park, we climbed up a mountain with a hole in it (the climb was really mild – I’m not a climber – but the view was great).  I recommend both places if you are ever there.  We were lucky to stumble upon them.

One fun thing to do is to sample the food in these parks.  It’s almost like being in the team’s real park foodwise because many of the parks carry the signature food from their team’s home park.  We got to sample two ballpark delicacies on this trip.  At Salt River Fields, we tried the signature hot dog of the Diamondbacks.  It’s called a Mega Dog – a huge hot dog covered in pulled pork and jalapeno mac and cheese – fantastic!  Then at Goodyear Ballpark, I got to try the signature food of the Cincinnati Reds – a Skyline Chili Coney Dog.  It was a hot dog smothered in Skyline Chili (famous in Cincinnati – we had it there on our trip in 2012) with onions and cheese.  It was really small, but really tasty.

The highlight of my trip this year was the single autograph I got.  At the first game we went to I just missed getting Hunter Pence’s autograph.  I noticed him signing and moved over to where he was, but by the time I got there he had to leave.  He was being so patient and friendly and signing for so many people.  I figured I had missed my chance for that trip.  Then two days later, I was lucky enough to actually be standing close to the area where he came over to sign autographs.  As he was signing, I asked him, “Are you happy to be playing with your buddy Michael (Morse) again?”  He gave me this big smile and said, “Very happy!  Great things happen when we get together!”  And luckily he eventually made his way over to me and signed my journal!  YAY!!  It was so adorable because I noticed it was taking him a while to sign.  Then he said, “I’m trying to draw you a smiley face!”  And thank goodness he told me that because I wouldn’t have known what it was otherwise!  LOL!  He’s such a cutie pie!

Congrats to Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Mark Melancon (even though he didn’t play much) on their World Baseball Classic championship!  Sounds like all three had a blast playing in that series.  I know that there were a lot of comparisons to the All-Star game, but it was even nicer for them because they actually got to build a relationship with their teammates over several games, not just one.  It’s kind of more like the Olympics in that sense.  It was very nice for Brandon to be in the national spotlight, even being mentioned by the announcers as a possible WBC MVP candidate.  I had a lot of fun watching the games and enjoying the different ways different countries play and enjoy the game of baseball.  Those Japanese fans really get into it, even coming up with different songs for each of the different players!  And the Latin celebrations are fantastic!  Bottom line, though – really glad no one got hurt!!

Melancon reminds me that I have two new questions from Angel to answer.  The first is about the pronunciation of Mark Melancon’s name.  Angel wonders why you pronounce the c like an s.  I assumed it’s because it’s French.  I looked it up, and it is a French name.  The c is actually ç (cedilla), and it is pronounced like s.  Melancon is the Americanized version since we don’t have that letter in our alphabet.  Another interesting thing I discovered about the name Melancon – it means “an ill man”.  Why in the world did that first Melancon choose that as their last name???  Angel was also curious about how they select the managers for the WBC teams.  Well, I couldn’t find an outright answer to this question, but I did find out that no manager currently working in the Major Leagues can head a WBC team, although coaches are potential candidates if they are given permission from their individual clubs.  That’s why Hensley Meulens was able to manage the Netherlands team.  And Jim Leyland could manage the US team because he’s retired.  If anyone else has any insight into this question, please help Angel out.  Thanks!

Saw my first intentional walk of the season on Friday (well, preseason anyway).  Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked.  Bob Melvin, manager of the A’s, simply held up four fingers to the umpire and that was that.  One second Brandon was warming up swinging the bat and the next he was on first.  I don’t like it!!  Angel and I were texting about how much we hated it.  Oh well – I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing this season.  Even Kruk and Kuip mentioned how weird it was.  BOOO!!

There will be some new pre and post-game analysts at Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area (soon to be NBC Sports Bay Area – why do they have to change things???) this season, and I’m really excited about the additions.  Besides Javier Lopez, Matt Williams and Cody Ross will be joining the team.  I was surprised about Matt Williams because I thought he was still a manager somewhere, but I guess not.  So glad he’ll be talking about my boys.  And who doesn’t love Cody Ross??  Look forward to seeing that great smile again!

Will end today on a silly note.  I heard a crazy story about the Giants on KNBR the other day, on the Tolbert and Lund show.  Those two guys make me laugh out loud all the time!  Anyway, they were talking about how the Giants have full-time sports scientists on their medical staff.  They can use all sorts of cutting edge gadgets to make sure that the players are working at their optimum capacity.  Well, one of the areas they are interested in is proper hydration.  I can see how this would be a good thing, and I would imagine that good hydration could give the players and the team a competitive edge.  It’s just the way they are going about it is pretty hysterical.  They measure the player’s hydration by measuring their urine specific gravity.  Of course, this is accomplished by taking a urine sample, and it’s taken before batting practice.  The testing is 100% voluntary, but in order to get guys to buy into this, they’ve turned good hydration into a competition – the best hydrated player after every series wins a coveted prize.  That prize is a golden urinal trophy!  Check it out!!  And I love the Twitter quote: “Think of it as the M-V-Pee trophy!”  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!  What would you do with that thing if you won it??

Hope that the boys can carry the momentum of an A’s sweep with them to Arizona.  So looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance of an Opening Day game.  I should go out and buy some hot dogs just to feel like I’m there!  Come on, Boys!  Show us what you’ve got!  We’ll be cheering for you!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  PLAY BALL!!

Play Ball!! (Sort Of)

Baseball’s back!!  Well, at least baseball training is!!  I can even watch games on TV again!  In case you’re interested and dying to get that baseball fix as much as I am, here’s a link to the broadcast schedule (both TV and radio) for the Giants Spring Training games.  I’ll definitely be watching that Giants vs. Dodgers game on Wednesday.  Maybe we’ll even get a view of Romo with his new teammates (UGH!!).

Yes.  We knew he probably wasn’t going to be a Giant this season, but now we know Sergio Romo will be wearing Dodger blue.  Sigh.  It is going to be really tough to watch him play in that uniform, joking around with the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and (choke) Yasiel Puig, but I can’t really blame him for making that choice.  When I first heard, I was pretty upset, but then I heard about a text he sent to Paulie “Mac” McCaffrey of KNBR.   Here’s a link to it.  Sergio made it clear that he has no ill will and is moving to the Dodgers for family reasons.  He grew up a Dodgers fan, his dad is still a Dodgers fan, his family lives in the area, and frankly, they offered him a job.  He still wants to work, and the Giants didn’t come a calling.  He turned down some offers from East Coast teams, but that’s understandable coming from a guy who puts his family first and has young children.  I always hate it when my boys go to that team, but I understand.  Come game time, though, he ain’t going to be getting any cheers from me!!  Thanks for all you did for us, Sergio.  You (and “El Mechon”) will definitely be missed!

It’s also been confirmed that Javier Lopez will not be a Giant and that he is retiring from playing baseball.  Thankfully, he’ll still be hanging around and will be announcing some games along with Jeremy Affeldt.  This comes as Mike Krukow will have a lighter workload this season due to his medical issues.  Can’t think of a better replacement – Javi is a natural and will fit right in.  He’s also supposed to help out at Spring Training as a special instructor.  Looking forward to hearing him in the booth (and the craziness that will ensue when he and Jeremy get together!).

Another former Giants reliever, Brian Wilson, is trying to make a comeback.  This time, he’s trying to make it as a knuckleballer.  He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014 when he played for the Dodgers (Yeah – remember the World Series ring fiasco with Larry Baer?  Still hate the guy for that.).  And he must be serious because he even shaved off his beard.  I had forgotten how cute his face was under that thing!  Here’s a pic of his clean-shaven face.  Whatever.  You have to admit, the guy is entertaining I guess.  We’ll see if he can make his way back onto a team or not.

I’ve got some more Spring Training tidbits for you.  Our beloved Cody Ross is also helping out the Giants in Arizona this season.  I love that guy – he’s always so happy.  Glad he’s coming back.  The Giants signed Gordon Beckham to a minor league deal.  If that name sounds familiar it’s because he played in 3 games for the Giants at the end of last season.  Guess they’re going to give him a chance again this year.  Plus they are also giving Aaron Hill a chance to compete for a spot, signing him to a minor league deal as well.  Hill batted .262 between the Brewers and the Red Sox last season, but he floundered near the end of the season and found himself up for grabs.  The list of guys competing for infield utility spots now stands at 8 (Kelby Tomlinson, Jae-gyun Hwang, Orlando Calixte, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Hill, Gordon Beckham, and Juniel Querecuto – thanks for this list, Grant Brisbee).  That dugout sure must be crowded!  How stressful it must be to know you have to beat out that many guys to earn a spot on the team.  Guess that’s part of why they make the big bucks.

I learned a fun fact about how Michael Morse ended up in Spring Training camp this season.  It was due to a bit of crazy serendipity.  He was at Hunter Pence’s wedding (of course he was there because those two have a major bromance going on), and he happened to run into Giants general manager Bobby Evans there.  During a casual conversation with Evans, Morse mentioned that he felt he still had something to offer as a reserve player, to which Evans responded, “Well, if you don’t think you’re done, why don’t you come to camp?”  WHAT???  Isn’t that crazy???  And Morse said that he wouldn’t want to play for any other team than the Giants.  I love that boy!  Hoping, hoping, hoping I get to see him at Spring Training.

Has anyone else been wondering what the heck happened to Jake Peavy?  I hadn’t heard a word about whether the Giants were pursuing him or if he had been picked up by another team until last week.  It turns out the poor guy has had some horrible luck lately.  Not only was he the victim of a Ponzi scam last season that bilked him of millions of dollars, but he also came home after the 2016 post-season and was greeted by divorce papers from his wife of 15 years.  Harsh!  Understandably, he’s decided he needs a break to be there for his kids at this difficult time in their lives, so he’s not planning on playing for a team right now.  I feel so bad for the guy.  I hope everything works out.  He hopes that once things settle down he may be able to help out some team near the end of the season.  Wishing you all the best, Jake.  Hang in there.

There are a couple of new rules that baseball is considering in order to speed things up, and frankly I’m not a fan of either.  The first is a change to the intentional walk.  Pitchers would no longer have to throw any pitches to do this – the bench would simply signal to the umpire that the batter is being intentionally walked.  I think this stinks.  If you are going to walk someone, you need to walk them.  That’s 4 pitches the pitcher is being saved – not fair!  Plus it’s always exciting when something crazy happens during an intentional walk, like a passed ball or an actual connection by the batter.  And seriously, how much time is this going to save?  Another rule that’s being tossed about really makes me angry.  In order to speed up games that go into extra innings, a runner would be placed on second base at the start of the inning.  They are actually trying this out in the low minors this year.  I hate this in so many ways.  Who is that runner going to be?  How is that runner going to affect the pitcher’s stats?  And with both teams getting that runner, how is it going to change anything??  I still think if you want to speed up the game, cut off a couple of innings!!  And apparently, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins agrees that it’s something to consider.  Check out some of the other ideas that came out of an interview during Spring Training Media Day in Florida.  What do you think?  Personally, I say just leave the game I love alone!

I’ll end by mentioning what a fantastic time I had at Giants FanFest two weeks ago.  The lines definitely seemed a bit shorter this year – Ginny and I got to the park at about 7 am and we were right up in the front of the line.  We got into the KNBR Q&A session with Bruce Bochy, Bobby Evans, and new closer Mark Melancon, we got lots of goodies from vendors down on the field, we watched our boys being interviewed down on the field, we walked on the field (Ginny got to stand where Brandon does at short) and in the dugout, we went to The Garden in center field (Ginny’s first time), we got to get close to lots of my boys signing autographs, and we toured the Press Box.  We also got to talk to many of the wonderful AT&T Park staff members – they’re always so friendly and helpful.  But the highlight of my day was when I got to take a picture with my boy Eli Whiteside as he was walking from one autograph booth to another.  What luck!  And what a thrill!  Thanks for having the peace of mind to stop him for a photo with me, Ginny!  I owe you big time!  Just being in that park always makes my day wonderful!  Heading off to Spring Training in less than two weeks – can’t wait to see my boys up close and personal again!  Hopefully I can update you on some of the kids in camp next time.  Have to start learning those names.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA ON WEDNESDAY!!

Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days!!

I seriously need to update this thing more often!  Even though baseball hasn’t started yet (but it will very soon!!), there has been some news to update you on regarding our boys.  Here’s a list to get you up-to-date with what’s happened in the past month:

  • My beloved Gregor Blanco will be leaving the Giants. He was offered a minor league deal by the Diamondbacks and will be battling for a spot on their team during Spring Training.  At least I might get a chance to see him again as we will be attending a D-Backs game in March.  I am really going to miss that guy.  He definitely came through for us when we needed some outfield support.  Plus he made several amazing catches (including the one in the Matt Cain perfect game) and clutch hits (remember that leadoff homerun in Game 2 of the 2014 World Series?).  Besides his production, he is just an all-around nice guy, so I’m sure he’ll be missed in the clubhouse as well.  Best of luck, Gregor.  And thank you for not spitting!!
  • Santiago Casilla will also be leaving as he signed a 2-year contract with the Oakland A’s. At least he doesn’t have very far to travel!  I think everyone expected this after his performance last season, but I will really miss Santiago as well.  He always gave it his best and he was another really nice dude.  I won’t miss the torture in those late innings, though.  Glad he was picked up by another team.  Best of luck, Santiago.  Thanks for helping us win those rings.
  • Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith all avoided arbitration with the Giants and signed 1 year deals. Gillaspie gets $1.4 million, Kontos gets $1.75 million, Nuñez gets $4.2 million, and Will Smith gets $2.5 million.  Very excited about all these guys coming back.  Conor earned his place on the team as a backup third baseman with his amazing post-season play.  George was a treasured gem in an otherwise lackluster bullpen, posting a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.16 WHIP last season (plus he’s adorable!).  Eduardo came through with some amazing support both offensively and defensively at third after the Matt Duffy trade (still hard for me to type that).  He may even see some time in left field next season as he has experience in that role.  We need some outfield backup with Angel and Gregor leaving.  And Will showed much promise at the end of the season.  He’s a much needed lefty in the bullpen with the probable exit of Javier Lopez.
  • Still haven’t had confirmation whether Sergio Romo or Javier Lopez will be coming back, but at this point it doesn’t look good. On KNBR this morning, Duane Kuiper mentioned that if Javier isn’t offered a major league contract up front, he probably will retire.  He could definitely have a second career in baseball as an announcer, though.  That guy is so intelligent and witty!  On the other hand, Sergio Romo would be willing to try out for a team during Spring Training (even though he’s never had to do that before).  Romo mentioned in an interview that he would love to come back, but at this point he’s assuming it’s not in the cards.  I would have to agree.  Supposedly the Mets and the Nationals have shown interest in him.  Will keep you updated if I hear anything.  I love Sergio and all he did for us during his time on the Giants, but I have to say his disrespect of Bruce Bochy near the end of last season has left a sour taste in my mouth.  Sergio will be pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Giants signed Korean 3rd baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league deal. He will be competing for an infield roster spot during Spring Training.  I mentioned him as a person of interest in my last blog.  He did really well in the Korean League, so we’ll see how that translates here.  There’s going to be a lot of infield competition this season!
  • The most surprising move to me was the signing of Nick Hundley, former starting catcher for both the Padres and the Rockies. He was given a major-league contract, agreeing to a 1-year, $2 million dollar deal, meaning that he will most likely be Buster’s backup catcher.  Hundley hit .260 with the Rockies last season, but that was in a park that is super batter friendly.  Still that’s above average for a backup catcher, and he is a veteran behind the plate so I’m sure guys will feel comfortable pitching to him.  I remember Hundley from watching games where he was our opponent, and what I remember is that you need to watch out when he comes up to the plate!  Definitely made a good impression on me!  This addition surprised me because I assumed Trevor Brown would be the backup catcher, but I guess even though the starters like to pitch to him, his bat has been a bit too quiet for comfort.  Trevor is a guy who may also be able to play another position, making the Spring Training competition that much more lively.  Welcome to the team, Nick.  Wonder how he’s going to adjust to the lower altitude?
  • As one player gets added to the roster, another must leave. Thus when Nick Hundley was signed, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment to make room for him.  I liked Adrianza, but I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t released sooner.  He was never really that impressive.  Today he was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers, so at least he’ll be on a team again.  Thanks, Ehire, and good luck to you in Milwaukie.

I also heard that one of my favorite ex-Giants players, Ryan Vogelsong, signed a minor-league deal with the Twins.  I’m so happy he’s able to continue playing baseball.  I love that guy!  And I’m sure he’ll continue to battle, giving it his all and surprising people.  Keep on going, Vogey!  Wishing you the best.  And all the best to your lovely wife Nicole as well.

I heard on KNBR about a study that was done on the effects of jet lag on baseball players.  At first I said, “DUH jet lag affects baseball players!” but some of the results were interesting.  They found the offense of jet-lagged home teams is much more affected than that of jet-lagged away teams, and eastward travel had more negative effects on home teams than on away teams.  Negative effects on offense were related to base running, such as stolen bases, number of doubles and triples, and hitting into more double plays.  Pitchers were especially affected, giving up more home runs.  This effect was large enough to erase the home field advantage for the pitcher.  The other weird thing is that there are worse ill effects from eastward jet lag than westward jet lag.  If this is true, our boys, who are usually travelling eastward to games, would be at a disadvantage.  But of course, they are amazing, and they do well for us regardless!!  Pretty interesting stuff after all.  Wonder how much they spent for that study, though.  As a result, you may see teams sending starting pitchers to away games ahead of the rest of the team in order to allow the jet lag to wear off.

I have a fun video to share with you.  Bruce Bochy did this piece with Yahoo Sports where he opened a pack of 25-year-old baseball cards and commented on each of the guys.  Man, he knows everyone!  It was so cool because he had stories about almost every single one.  Listening to the interview I realized how much I miss that guy!  Here is the interview.

Also came across a heart-warming baseball story that I wanted to share.  It’s not about the Giants but the San Diego Padres.  The story involves pitcher Matt Lachappa.  He was drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft by the Padres and played Class A ball for them in Rancho Cucamonga.  In April 1996, while warming up for a relief appearance, he stopped and clutched his chest and then fell to the ground.  The team’s trainer got to him quickly and performed CPR for 20 minutes until help arrived.  Surprisingly at such a young age, Lachappa had suffered a heart attack.  He survived, but the lack of oxygen to his brain for that period took its toll, leaving him unable to walk and slowing his speech.  Of course, sadly, Matt could no longer play baseball, plus he would be burdened with hefty medical bills if he lost his insurance from the team.  But Priscilla Oppenhiemer, director of minor league operations at the time, wasn’t going to let that happen.  She asked why the team couldn’t continue to offer Lachappa a contract with insurance benefits each year, and she got no resistance.  So to this day, Matt Lachappa is signed to a minor league contract with the Padres and continues to have his medical bills paid through the team.  That’s a great story right there.  Baseball people take care of their own!

I can finally count the days to FanFest on my fingers!!  It’s only 10 days away!  Can’t wait!  I wonder if the guys that are going to the World Baseball Classic will be wearing their countries’ jerseys again this time.  And I’m hoping that Angel and I can score that Peet’s orange mug that we barely missed out on last year!  Will be so wonderful to be in my happy place and see my boys again.  I’ll keep my ears open for any late off-season news for you, though there’s not much time left for any major moves.  Let me know if any of you are going to FanFest and we can try and meet up.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING MY BOYS AGAIN!!