Yeah, Baby! Spring Training has begun, signaling the start of baseball season! WOOHOO! Pitchers and catchers reported on Valentine’s Day (bet their wives loved that), and the rest of the guys arrived today to start working out to prepare for a fantastic 2014 season. Tons of pictures on Twitter and Facebook. It’s nice to see them all back together, and also nice to see the new players, Michael Morse and Tim Hudson, in Giants unis. If you want to get to know Tim Hudson, here’s a nice video for you. Looking forward to his arm and his guidance on the team, plus his personality fits right in. He seems pretty mellow. And I’ve found one more reason to love Michael Morse – his number is 38, Brian Wilson’s old number. What a great way to wipe all evidence of that guy from the team! Here’s an interview with Michael that will help you understand why I love this guy (apologies for part of his head being cut off). He’s so down-to-earth and personable! And if you’re curious (like I was), here’s a link to the video of that crazy grand slam he describes. So funny! Some of the rules regarding things like that are just so silly!
The big news today is that Brandon Belt finally got a contract, and a few hours before his arbitration hearing. He got a 1 year, $2.9 million contract. This number was almost half way between what he and his agent were trying to get ($3.6 million) and what the Giants wanted to offer ($2.05 million). The threat of arbitration loomed because those two numbers were so far off. Glad that’s done and he can focus on baseball now. Plus he’s probably happy to be offered a contract – shows good will on the part of the Giants. Plus that’s one hell of a nice raise over the $531.5K he made last year! I learned that if his deal had gone to arbitration, it would have been the first time for the Giants to have an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to A.J. Pierzynski.
Joaquin Arias also avoided arbitration and was given a 2 year, $2.6 million contract by the Giants. To me, he is one of the overlooked strengths of the team. He always seems to come through in the clutch, both offensively and defensively. He should see more playing time this season as Bochy has said that he will cover for Marco when he needs a break (he is having lingering back issues). I’m ecstatic about this, and look forward to seeing more of him this season.
Two new signings have happened since last I posted. LHP David Huff was acquired from the Yankees for cash to add to their bullpen depth. He is apparently prone to giving up homeruns, so the new home of AT&T Park might be beneficial for him. Also former Royal infielder/outfielder Mark Teahan was signed to a minor league contract. He was added solely for depth and will not be attending major league camp. Welcome to the Orange and Black, Guys!
So the rumors my brother heard from Andrew Baggarly last season were true. Several of the players themselves told Pablo to lose weight to improve his defense. This included Hunter, Matt, Buster, and Marco. He has lost a significant amount of weight in the off season, and hopefully he’ll take their suggestions to heart and keep it off during the season. Baggs commented that he has motivation with this being a contract year for him, but that even if he stayed heavy, he could still end up in the American League as a designated hitter since he still bats well with that weight on. Pablo – we want you to stay right here! Listen to your boys and keep that weight off! They’ll support you cause they know what you can do for the team.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Hector Sanchez also trimmed down in the off-season. He lost 20 pounds. He’s hoping that this will give him increased stamina, something he had troubles with last season. He also says that he no longer has shoulder discomfort. Looking forward to him contributing more this season when Buster needs a break, especially since he’s a switch hitter and a powerful batter. Good luck, Hector! You can do it!
Some interesting news about Chad Gaudin: I was wondering why the Giants didn’t sign him as he did such a great job replacing Ryan Vogelsong when he was injured last season. Gaudin was signed to a minor league contract by the Phillies, but then three weeks later they cut him when he failed his physical. It’s assumed that this had something to do with the carpal tunnel surgery he had last season. Maybe the Giants knew something and decided not to keep him. I had never heard of anyone failing a physical before. Baggs said that Yusmeiro Petit will take Gaudin’s role this season, but that the Giants could still use more pitching depth as far as starters.
Just cause I haven’t in a while, and just cause I don’t want him to think I’ve forgotten him, I’ll give you an Eli Whiteside update. He was signed to a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs in November, and he will be a non-roster invitee to their Spring Training to compete for a job backing up Cubs catcher Welington Castillo. Glad to see that my boy is still playing ball. Good luck at Spring Training, Eli! Hope you can make the team!
Giants Spring Training games start on February 26th – that’s next week, Folks! I am so excited. I know that game will be broadcast on KNBR, but I’m hoping several of the games will also appear on Comcast. I need my fix! Will hopefully update more often now that the boys are back. YAY! GO GIANTS!