Giants

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 0

BOX SCORE

DENVER Youd assume that Barry Zito and Coors Field go together like stepladders and margarine.

Crazy. Dangerous. Someone really should intercede before someone gets hurt. That kind of stuff.

But you might be surprised to learn that Zito owns the Colorado Rockies over his career. He owned them again Monday afternoon. And at least to start the 2012 season, he owns the title of staff stopper.

The Giants beat Colorado 7-0 in the Rockies home opener on Monday, they avoided starting 0-4 for the first time since 1950 and they had Zito to thank for it. Despite having just two bullpen sessions and one minor league camp game to reinvent himself, Zito rebounded from his disastrous spring with a result that nobody could have predicted.

He threw a four-hit shutout his first in six seasons as a Giant. He had done it just four other times in his career, and not since April 18, 2003 at Texas, when he still wore green and gold.

Starting pitching report
Zito only allowed two runners into scoring position in a 112-pitch masterpiece. He didnt abandon all elements of the delivery he developed with pitching guru Tom House over the winter, staying in a crouched position especially from the stretch. But he made enough changes to ensure he could repeat his delivery, throw strikes and keep the ball below the belt.

Zito improved to 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 18 career games against the Rockies. He hasnt lost to Colorado since 2008 a span of 11 appearances (nine starts).

He began the ninth with 102 pitches with Brian Wilson all warmed up in the bullpen. But he didnt allow a baserunner and he got Todd Helton to ground out to third base to end it. Zito was a picture of relaxation as he accepted a hug from catcher Hector Sanchez and then an emphatic embrace from first baseman Aubrey Huff.

It was Zitos third complete game as a Giant and the 12th of his career.

Bullpen report
Guillermo Mota put on a uniform and everything, too.

At the plate
Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run home run in the first inning, marking his fifth homer in his last five games at Coors Field. Hector Sanchez posted his first career multi-hit game, including an RBI single in a two-run third inning after Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin walked the bases loaded.

Brandon Crawford provided more breathing room in the fifth inning with a bases-clearing double after shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez both committed errors that helped to load em up.

Crawfords hit came off a lefty pitcher, too another encouraging sign that hell be more than a good glove at shortstop.

In fact, before Sanchez singled off Greg Reynolds in the fifth inning, the Giants had been 0 for 19 against left-handed pitchers this season.

The Giants have scored at least four runs in all four games this season. Thats something they managed to do in just two stretches of four or more games last year, when they scored the fewest runs in the NL.

Even Zito hit a cue-shot single, inspiring mass laughter and cheering in the Giants dugout.
In the field
Sandoval made a diving stop of leadoff hitter Marco Scutaros hot grounder, giving Zito a chance to settle in and continue pitching from the windup. Crawford made a diving catch of pinch hitter Eric Young Jr.s line drive in the fifth.

Center fielder Angel Pagan dropped a shallow pop fly for an error leading off the sixth, but Zito pitched out of trouble.

Attendance
The Rockies sold out the joint for their home opener. They announced 49,282 paid. Roughly 40,000 fell mute after the third inning.

Up next
The Giants and Rockies have a scheduled day off Tuesday, which is often the case in April series at Coors Field in case of snow. Thankfully for all parties, it was sunny with a high of 70 degrees on Monday and the forecast calls for more of the same the remainder of the week.

Tim Lincecum (0-1, 8.44) will take the mound against right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0. 3.86) when the series resumes Wednesday night. First pitch is at 5:40 p.m. PDT.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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USATSI

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

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USATSI

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.