I’m starting off today with the Eli update. If you don’t care about Eli (and unfortunately, I know some of you don’t), skip this first paragraph. But for me, this is the big news! A few weeks ago, my friend Dianna passed along some interesting news to me. It mentioned that Eli Whiteside was going to be a coach for the Giants. WHAT??? I had not heard anything about this, and I had mentioned in my last blog that he had signed a minor league contract with the Braves, so I was confused. I tried Googling to get some further info and couldn’t find anything. So what was the deal? Every once in a while I would check again, and nothing. Then yesterday, I was watching some highlights from the first day at Spring Training in Scottsdale (pitchers and catchers reported yesterday), and smack dab in the middle of the video, there’s Eli! Another video showed him entering the stadium! That guy has a way of getting on camera somehow! Then later I read an article by Alex Pavlovic that said Eli was the new Bullpen Coach, replacing Billy Hayes who has moved to 1st Base Coach. YAY! I’m so glad Eli is a Giant again! What are the odds that my boy would come back?? I’m hoping to get to see him during Spring Training. Specifically, I have a 2012 World Series shirt with signatures printed on it, and his is missing (he did actually play that season). I’m hoping to get him to sign it. He will probably get a kick out of that (or think I am insane). And thanks so much for the heads up, Dianna!
So baseball is BACK!! I spent a good part of my day yesterday watching video interviews of my boys and relishing the fact that things will be back in swing soon. They all look great – in particular Brandon Belt and Madison Bumgarner are looking extra buff. They’re an interesting contrast to Pablo, who has been making the news for his lack of buffness coming into Spring Training. Check this out. Wonder what those Boston fans are going to think about this.
There are 22 non-roster invitees coming to Spring Training. Four of the guys have major league experience: Brandon Hicks, Guillermo Quiroz, Juan Gutierrez, and Bruce’s boy, Brett Bochy. The three top pitching prospects include Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, and Ty Blach. The top hitting prospect is outfielder Mac Williamson. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery but is ready to play again. He’s the one I’m most interested in as our team needs more power. It’s interesting to note that one of the pitchers invited, left-hander Adalberto Mejia, was suspended 50 games in November for failing a drug test, so he really has no likelihood of joining the team this season. He was ranked as the Giants #4 prospect. Why do these kids do this? He probably set his progress back at least a year. It will be interesting to see if any of these kids can make the team like Hicks and Gutierrez did last year. I’m hoping Comcast will televise more Spring Training games this season so I can check them out.
For my returning boys, there will be some guys battling for position on the 25-man roster. At catcher, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez are the prime contenders for the backup catcher spot. Susac probably has the advantage, but you never know. Hector looked to be in great shape yesterday. In left field, Nori Aoki is the front runner for the position, but he will get some competition from Gregor Blanco, Juan Perez, and Travis Ishikawa. And for utility guys, Joaquin Arias, Matt Duffy, Brandon Hicks, and Adam Duvall will be competing for a spot.
Barry Zito is back in baseball. He had mentioned that he wanted to take a year off but that he wasn’t leaving the game, and here he is again. He tried out in front of several teams, and his old friends the A’s have offered him a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training. I’m so happy for him – he’s such a great guy. We’ll see what his stuff is like now. I may get to see him at Spring Training as we are attending one A’s game while we’re there. Good luck, Barry!
As I’m always keeping an eye out on those pesky Dodgers, I have some news to share on that front. A coworker of mine (who happens to be a Dodgers fan) told me that the Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, underwent foot surgery recently and is expected to be out for 8 – 12 weeks. He had a growth on one of the bones of his foot. I never want to wish ill on anyone, but it couldn’t have happened to a better team. Now they’ll have to scramble to replace their star. Good news for us!
Three of my boys who were arbitration eligible settled with the Giants for contracts, preventing the team from going to arbitration with any of their players yet again this season. Ginny’s boy Brandon Crawford settled for $3.175 million for 1 year, Brandon Belt settled for $3.6 million for 1 year, and my newest boy Casey McGehee settled for $4.8 million for 1 year. Somehow the word “settled” doesn’t seem appropriate for the amount of money these guys are making! Glad those dealings are over with and now they can focus on playing.
Meanwhile infielder Chris Dominguez was designated for assignment to make room for Ryan Vogelsong on the 40-man roster. A week later, he was signed to a minor league deal by the Reds with an invitation to attend their big league camp. I think he’s got a lot of potential, and I hope he does well for them because he seems like a good kid. When doing research on him, I came across the story of his first big league home run with the Giants. An eight-year-old girl got the ball and signed it with her name and “Congratulations!” What a great keepsake for him! I love stories like that. Good luck, Chris!
Baseball has a new commissioner in Rob Manfred, taking over after Bud Selig retires. I know my brothers are happy about this because they hated Selig. Frankly, I don’t really care, but the reason I even bring it up is that he mentioned two of my boys in a letter to fans, and anytime my boys are put in the national spotlight it makes me happy. In his letter, he states, “Our children can look at MLB today and find a wave of new stars worthy of emulating both on and off the field. Players like Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout and aces Madison Bumgarner, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw have powerful stories to tell – and MLB will tell them across every platform.” Two out of seven guys he mentioned are my boys! What a great tribute to them. The new commish won some points with me on that one, but he lost a ton when he mentioned he wants to do away with outfield shifts. Come on, Guy. Get real! The shifts make the game more interesting and force players to expand their hitting range. He’ll learn, I hope.
Some sad news for me – Andrew Baggarly is no longer the Giants Insider for Comcast. I love that guy! I thought it might be due to that run in with Sergio Romo last year where Baggs reported that he and Shawon Dunston were arguing and Romo took offense to it. But in an interview with Bay Area Sports Guy Joey McMurry, Baggs said that had nothing to do with it and that Comcast totally stood behind him on the story. He said that the reason he left was because he wasn’t able to travel with the team as much due to budget cuts and he felt he missed out on getting stories because of it. He is now spending his time writing a book about the Giants. Also just found out that he’s been hired by Bay Area News Group as their Giants beat writer, so he’ll still be close to my boys. He’s already tweeting up a storm from Arizona. Hoping to see him at Spring Training. Will continue to follow him on Twitter and read his stories about my boys. Taking over for Baggs is Alex Pavlovic, coming over from the San Jose Mercury News. Pavlovic is well qualified to take over, and even though Baggs is my favorite, Alex is a close second. Plus, he’s a very good-looking man! I look forward to reading his stuff, and have been enjoying his commentary already (he even commented about Eli’s arrival!).
I attended FanFest with my Giants partner-in-crime, Ginny. We had a wonderful time as usual. I even got to see my FanFest buddy Leslie and her daughters. It was so great to be in that park again with my boys. Oh how I’ve missed it! Didn’t get any autographs this year, but I did get a wave from Javi Lopez. Plus I got to see Ryan, Joe, Matt, Hunter, Boch, and Brandon Crawford on the Club level stage fairly up close. Plus I got a ballpark hot dog and fries! And Ginny and I stalked the guys as they were leaving the park. Another great time. Now I’m looking forward to my Spring Training trip with my siblings next month. We’ll be seeing 5 games in 4 days. So excited!
I’ll leave you with a funny pic to start off the season. Here you go. This was posted by his daughter. Duane showing his Giants pride. Love that guy! Will be keeping an eye on my boys as they get ready to start this season. Until next time, GO GIANTS!