Dalton Johnson

Evan Longoria calls Giants' lineup 'as deep as any' in MLB


Evan Longoria calls Giants' lineup 'as deep as any' in MLB

The Giants ranked 29th in runs scored, 30th in home runs, 23rd in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage, and 30th in slugging percentage in 2017. Bad is one word for their offense last season. There are plenty more that can't be typed here. 

It's no secret the front office knew those numbers after cringing at the product on the field. And they went out and added two big names who have combined for eight All-Star appearances and one MVP. 

"Our lineup is as deep as any right now," Evan Longoria said Friday on MLB Network Radio. "Lot of guys who know how to hit, have been around, know how to prepare. And I think it makes my job a lot easier." 

San Francisco hopes its stagnant offense is a thing of the past and it's clear Longoria believes that to be true. Longoria (20) and Andrew McCutchen (28), who they also acquired in a trade with the Pirates, add 48 home runs to a line in a desparate need of a power boost. Both those players are expected tp be somewhere in the middle of Bruce Bochy's lineup. 

"Wherever I insert into the lineup I don't think it matters," Longoria says. "I think we have a really good balance of right handers and left handers. The ability to run the bases. The ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark." 

Early on in the spring, the revamped offense has been producing. Going into Saturday's schedule, where the Giants have two games, they are leading the Cactus League with a .302 batting average. The Giants are also second in home runs (29), second in runs (107), and first in OPS (.907). 

"I think there's a ton of plusses we've been able to put together this spring," Longoria said. 

The veteran third baseman has played in six games this spring, batting .286 with one home run, one double and three RBI. 

The two Gold Glove center fielders Steven Duggar always watched growing up

The two Gold Glove center fielders Steven Duggar always watched growing up

Not Madison Bumgarner. Not Buster Posey. Not even the new stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. 

No, the talk of Giants spring training has been a 24-year-old center fielder who started last season in the Arizona Rookie League thanks to elbow and hamstring injuries. Whether it's a diving catch or crushing a home run off the Dodgers, everyone wants to know what Steven Duggar will do for his next act. 

Based off his looks, build and ability, Bruce Bochy sees a young Steve Finley in Duggar. He didn't reveal who he tries to be like, but the two players Duggar couldn't keep his eyes off as a child make sense when you see him glide in the outfield. 

"I watched Andruw Jones a good bit just because I'm from South Carolina and he was playing with the Braves. I always liked Jim Edmonds too. Those two guys. It was a lot of fun to watch them play," Duggar said Thursday on KNBR

As he looks to force his way on to the Opening Day roster as a rookie, the former Clemson Tiger is just trying to be himself every day. 

"I just try to be the best player I can be in my own way," Duggar says. 

The Giants are moving McCutchen, the former National League Most Valuable Player, to right field this season. In doing so, Hunter Pence will slide to left field. Both these moves certainly had Duggar's future in center field in mind. Between the two players Duggar watched the most as a kid, Jones (10) and Edmonds (8) combined for 18 Gold Glove awards. Finely won five. 

"I just take a great deal of pride into defense. I enjoy going out to center field. I got the best view in the house. I see everything in front of me. Just getting some good breaks on ball, tracking them down, just playing fundamental defense," Duggar said. "I feel like defense and pitching is what wins. If we can be good at that, then we're all set."

While Duggar prides himself on defense and the scouting report on him has always put his glove ahead of his bat, Duggar is making noise at the plate too. Heading in Thursday's slate of spring training games, Duggar is hitting .350 with three home runs and a .409 on-base percentage in eight games. 

The Giants signed veteran center fielder Austin Jackson this offseason. They also brought back Gregor Blanco on a minor-league deal, and Austin Slater and Gorkys Hernandez will vie for time. And still, plenty have already pegged Duggar into the Opening Day lineup. 

Instead of add to expectations, the youngster of the bunch is taking a different, day-by-day mindset. 

"It truly is one day at a time," Duggar said. "Whatever happened the day before, whatever happened the previous days, you turn the page. Wake up, you go through your drills with one focus and that's to be the best player you can be that day. Whatever I can do to help the team win. That's kind of how I approach things."

So far, that's worked. It's one day at a time for Duggar, and his days in center field at AT&T Park will come sooner than later. Only time will tell if flashes of a Finley, Jones or Edmonds will join him.

Krukow believes Blach, Stratton duo will be big surprise for Giants


Krukow believes Blach, Stratton duo will be big surprise for Giants

Between the Giants' first three starters in their rotation, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have logged 4,698.2 innings and have combined for 795 starts in the big leagues. 

The leaders for the next two spots in the rotation are juniors to these Giants. In two seasons, Ty Blach has pitched 180.2 innings in the bigs and has started 26 games. Chris Stratton has only seen 68.2 innings and made 10 starts in 2017. 

To Mike Krukow though, these two don't have to be work horses of yore to be successful in San Francisco. 

"Look, with the way the game's evolved, you don't expect them to go out there and get 200 innings out of them," Krukow said Thursday on KNBR. "You expect them to go out there and go through the lineup twice.

"Whether it's four, five or six innings, that's their job. And both Ty Blach and Stratton are more than capable of that." 

Blach and Stratton came into spring as the leaders for the No. 4 and No. 5 spot in the Giants rotation. With prospects Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez competing to show they belong, Blach and Statton have done everything to keep them away. 

Through three starts, Blach has only allowed one earned run over 8.1 innings pitched, good for a 1.08 ERA. The lefty will never blow batters away, but he has struck out nine and is yet to walk a batter this spring. 

Stratton has made two starts and appeared once out of the bullpen halfway through spring training for the Giants. Over eight innings, the right-hander has allowed one more run than Blach and has a 2.25 ERA. He has 11 strikeouts and three walks thus far. 

"I like the fact that those guys are in that spot [No. 4 and No. 5]. I think that those guys will be a nice surprise for this club," Krukow said. 

If they keep throwing like this, soon it won't be such a surprise, but more of an expectation just like the trio ahead of this young duo.