Giants

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.

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrew McCutchen hit a towering, three-run homer, Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in his first big league game this season and Nick Hundley also connected to back Jeff Samardzija in the San Francisco Giants' 8-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

The Angels had only five hits, including a homer by Mike Trout, a double by Albert Pujols for his 2,991st career hit and two singles by Shohei Ohtani.

Samardzija (1-0) just made it through five innings to qualify for the win. He walked the bases loaded with two outs before manager Bruce Bochy came out for a mound visit. Justin Upton drove Samardzija's next pitch to the warning track in left, where Williamson caught it. Samardzija flinched at first, thinking it was gone, and then smiled as he walked toward the dugout. Bochy smiled and clapped his hands.

Samardzija opened the season on the disabled list with a pectoral strain suffered during spring training. He allowed two hits in five innings, struck out four and walked four.

Ohtani had the Angels' first hit off Samardzija, a single to center with two outs in the second. Ohtani had gone 0 for 4 with three strikeouts the night before as the Boston Red Sox completed a sweep. The designated hitter singled again in the ninth.

McCutchen, the designated hitter, drove a 1-2 pitch from Andrew Heaney into the Giants' bullpen beyond the left-field fence with one out in the fifth to chase the left-hander.

Heaney (0-1) allowed the first five batters to reach in the fifth. He allowed Williamson's homer to right and an RBI single by Austin Jackson.

Hundley hit an opposite-field shot to right in the second, his first. He added an RBI double in the eighth.

Trout homered to left-center off Pierce Johnson in the eighth, his seventh. Two batters later, Pujols drove a ball to the base of the fence in center before being replaced by pinch-runner Jefry Marte.

OHTANI'S BLISTER

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't sure if the seams on big league baseballs are what caused the blister on Ohtani's right middle finger that forced the Japanese two-way sensation out after just two innings Tuesday night against Boston in his third major league pitching start.

"He worked very hard getting used our baseball starting last winter," Scioscia said. "Blisters...come and go with pitchers occasionally at some point. Exactly when they crop up with some guys is a mystery. There are probably a lot of things that came into play for Shohei to have his become significant to where it affected some of his pitches. But I don't know if there's any one reason that you could pin down right now. He feels much better. We got him out in time last start where it didn't get any worse and hopefully he'll be able to make his next start."

Some pitchers blamed slicker balls for blisters last season.

Scioscia remained noncommittal about when Ohtani's next start would be, but a six-man rotation would have him Ohtani pitching Monday at Houston.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: Placed OF Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb and recalled Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-2, 4.60) is scheduled to start Saturday night. He has appeared in more games against the Angels than any other team, going 10-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances, including 25 starts.

Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60) is scheduled to make his first career start against San Francisco on Saturday night.

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence (right thumb sprain) on the 10-day DL on Friday, and recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from the triple-A Sacramento River Cats to take his place against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Pence missed his first game of the season on Thursday, as San Francisco lost the series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1. He's batting .172 on the season, and was 1-for-17 in his last five games. 

After revamping his swing, Williamson started off red-hot at the plate in Sacramento. He slashed .487/.600/1.026 in 50 plate appearances at triple-A. He will bat seventh and start in left field against the Angels. 

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani will bat sixth as the Angels' designated hitter, while Jeff Samardzija will take the hill for the Giants for the first time this season.

Here's who else will start for Bruce Bochy and Mike Scioscia. 

Giants (7-11)

1. Austin Jackson (R) CF

2. Joe Panik (L) 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen (R) DH

4. Buster Posey (R) 1B

5. Evan Longoria (R) 3B

6. Nick Hundley (R) C

7. Mac Williamson (R) LF

8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) RF

9. Kelby Tomlinson (R) SS

SP: Jeff Samardzija (First start this season)
 

Angels (13-6) 

1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B

2. Mike Trout (R) CF

3. Justin Upton (R) LF

4. Albert Pujols (R) 1B

5. Luis Valbuena (L) 3B

6. Shohei Ohtani (L) DH

7. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS

8. Kole Calhoun (L) RF

9. Martin Maldonado (R) C

SP: Andrew Heaney (0-0, 5.40 ERA)