EXTRA BAGGS: Huff speeds toward playoff roster spot, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Huff speeds toward playoff roster spot, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO Brandon Crawford wore a puzzled expressionas a reporter approached him Sunday afternoon.

I didnt play today, he said.

Well, sure he did. He pinch-ran for Aubrey Huff. Theres aspecial kind of pressure and preparation that comes with that, isnt there?

INSTANT REPLAY: Padres 6, Giants 4

I only had a minute to prepare, Crawford said. But evenif I didnt have a minute, Id still be faster. You can quote me. Im sick,unprepared and with a semi-tight hamstring, and Im still faster.

When it comes to comedy gold, Huffs balky running is24-karat. He wears a T-shirt under his batting practice jersey that says, FASTERTHAN ____.

He turned another double into a single Sunday, hitting ashot off the right field bricks in the ninth inning.

But no joke: There's little doubt Huff would be on the playoff roster if Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy had to pick his 25 guys today.

Well, you have to like his at-bats, Bochy said of Huff,who is 5 for 9 with two walks and just one strikeout as a pinch hitter since comingoff the DL on Sept. 1. Hes doing a great job with that. Its so valuable fora club to have a good left-handed pinch hitter, especially against a closerwith the game on the line.

The Giants dont have to make decisions until they knowtheir opponent in an NL Division Series, and that will have some influence. TheCincinnati Reds have a left-handed closer in Aroldis Chapman, as well as aleft-handed setup man in Sean Marshall.

Then there is the question of a pinch runner. Huff mightrequire two roster spots, since his knee which he injured June 13 when hetripped over the dugout rail in the immediate wake of Matt Cains perfect game --continues to be an issue.

There may be times I dont pinch run for him, Bochy said. Butwe have a nice quality at-bat when he goes up there, and thats something wellhave to think hard about.

The Giants know better than to give up on a gimpy veteran.If they ever happen to forget, Edgar Renteria can haul out his World Series MVPtrophy as a reminder.

Who knows? Maybe Francisco Peguero can make the postseasonroster as Huffs designated pinch runner. He certainly impressed with twostolen bases Sunday. Peguero said his right knee, which he injured two springsago, is finally feeling 100 percent and hes running better than at any timethis season.

Clay Hensley didnt have a very good outing on Sunday, butits been a darn good weekend for him. He left the club on Friday for the birthof a baby daughter, Lily, and then made it back in time to celebrate with theteam in Saturday.

Didnt have a chance to talk to Tim Lincecum all day today.I hoped to track him down after the game, but he put on rather sizableheadphones and didnt slow down when a reporter tried to call after him

We'll have to wait until after his start on Tuesday to get his thoughts on missing the clinching moment and the celebration.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


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


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.