Giants

Bumgarner struggles, Giants lose to Cubs 5-4

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Bumgarner struggles, Giants lose to Cubs 5-4

SCOTTSDALE -- The sizzle of Carlos Zambrano finally fizzled in Chicago, and that caused the Cubs to try to find another starting pitcher.Enter Chris Volstad, acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins in January for the more temperamental right-hander.Volstad describes himself as a laid-back guy who digs time on the beach back home in Florida and likes to dig his cleats into the mound and let the ball fly. From early indications this spring, the 6-foot-8 Volstad is fitting in nicely with the Cubs.On Tuesday, for the second time in as many spring starts, Volstad pitched three shutout innings and started a two-run inning by leading off the third with a single. The Cubs went on to hold off the San Francisco Giants 5-4."I felt good out there," Volstad said. "I was able to attack down in the zone, pound the strike zone, get ahead of guys and to let the sinker work for me."Told that his demeanor appears to be the opposite of the man for whom he was traded, Volstad said, "Yeah, that's what I hear. I still can get upset if things don't go my way. When that happens, you still have to make pitches and move on as best you can."RELATED: Posey hitless through three gamesThe 25-year-old Volstad pitched a combined 499 2-3 innings over the last three seasons, going 26-35. He is working on refining a four-seam fastball with new Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and appears to be satisfied with his progress."Just continue to work and locate my pitches," Volstad said. "The infield did a great job for me today. If you can throw a quality pitch and get a ground ball, that's what you want."Another new Cubs player, right fielder David DeJesus, did a good job with the bat and his arm.DeJesus, who signed with Chicago as a free agent after spending the 2011 season with Oakland, doubled in the third to send Volstad to third, setting up a run-scoring groundout by Darwin Barney and an RBI single by Starlin Castro.In the second, DeJesus hustled over toward the corner to retrieve the ball, spun and threw to second, holding Ryan Theriot to a single.The Giants' pitching was not as effective. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner started and was inconsistent, giving up three runs on seven hits in four innings. Setup man Sergio Romo gave up a two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo in the seventh.EXTRAS: Plans for Posey, Wilson; spring roster whittled down
The Giants scored three times in the eighth and had the tying run at third with two outs in the ninth, but right-hander Alberto Cabrera got Gregor Blanco to fly out to end it."(Bumgarner) has been throwing the ball well, but he was a bit wild in the strike zone today, made too many mistakes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Bochy was a bit more upbeat when talking about center fielder Angel Pagan, who is expected to be the Giants' leadoff man after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets for center fielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez.Pagan had a double and triple and drove in a run, and made a tumbling catch in left-center to rob Steve Clevenger of a hit in the second inning."He had a great game, swung the bat well. That's why he's the leadoff hitter. He can put the pressure on opposing teams," Bochy said.Bochy said Pagan likely would not play over the next few days as he recovers from surgery to remove a wisdom tooth.NOTES: Giants C Buster Posey caught four innings and likely will increase that six starting next week, Bochy said. Posey, with just five at-bats, is expected to be the DH against Cleveland on Wednesday. Bochy wants to get him about 50 at-bats by the end of the spring . ... Brandon Belt played right field against the Cubs, but Bochy said he likely would also try him in left, with Melky Cabrera moving to right.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

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AP

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

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.