EXTRA BAGGS: No-lose situation for Loux, Kobe Bryant's baseball brother, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: No-lose situation for Loux, Kobe Bryant's baseball brother, etc.

ANAHEIM Matt Cain wasnt the only Giants pitcher to workwith an extra surge of adrenaline Monday night.

Shane Loux admitted he nearly jumped out of his chair whenthe bullpen phone rang and he was summoned to get loose with the Giants leadingin the fifth inning.

Loux took the mound after a laboring Cain barely made itthrough five. He retired all three batters he faced in the sixth, setting atone that held for the bullpen the rest of the night. Cain wasnt perfect, butfour Giants relievers retired all 12 batters they faced.

And Loux got credited with a hold in the box score. That might not mean much to me or youor to your fantasy team. It might not come with a trophy or a souvenir or anewspaper headline to frame.

But when youve appeared in seven games all season, eachtime entering with your team trailing, each time walking into a losingclubhouse at the end of the day well, you learn to appreciate a change ofpace.

Nobody knows their role better than I do, and Im OK withthat, said Loux, who hadnt appeared in the majors since 2009 with the Angelsbefore the Giants purchased his contract last month. Still, theres someadrenaline when the phone rings.

Its nice. I like getting work, but its nice getting workto help the team win, especially for Matt.

Just a few weeks ago, everyone assumed that Loux would goback to Triple-A Fresno the moment that Brad Penny was ready. It looked like itwould take a couple of tune-up outings for Penny in the minors. But even thoughPennys shoulder is healthy enough to compete now, its hard to argue theGiants would be better off with him over Loux. Theyve already got a long guywith good stuff who throws strikes.

Loux has a 1.35 ERA and hes unscored upon in seven of eightoutings.

Threw strikes, he said, matter-of-factly. Get aggressivehitters to hit it on the ground. Thats what you want to do as a bullpen: getquick outs. Obviously, Romo and Affeldt and Casilla have been doing it. It wasnice to be a part of a victory.

Maybe Loux will get his own victory one of these days.

Got a win in 03 and another in 09, he said, smiling. SoIll wait another few years and get another one.

Cain made a nice recovery on Mike Trouts comebacker in thefourth inning, but just as impressive was the way Buster Posey managed the playat the plate. He received the throw, swiped his tag on Maicer Izturis, thenkicked his legs out of the way to make extra sure that his lower half wouldntmake contact with the runner.

That is exactly, EXACTLY how Bruce Bochy and Posey worked tohandle these plays in the spring.

Yes, its amazing that Cain retired 32 consecutive battersbefore Trout broke his streak with a leadoff single. But lets not forget thatlast year, Sergio Romo retired 31 consecutive over 15 appearances.

I let Romo know that Cains last out of his perfect gamenudged him ahead by one.

Ah, he got me, huh? Romo said.

Romo had a rough one in Seattle on Sunday, but he sure didbounce back well. He retired all four hitters he faced, including AlbertPujols.

I havent seen Bryce Harper play yet. But if hes betterthan Mike Trout, Ill be a rally monkeys uncle.

There are some players who fall under the category of worththe price of admission. One game and Im convinced: Hes one of them.

The press box here at the Big A has changed a bit since Icovered the team last in 2001. They pinched around 15 feet from each end tocreate extra luxury boxes. Imagine my surprise when I glanced to my left anddiscovered Kobe Bryant sitting in one, intently watching the game just a fewfeet away from me.

The Giants players noticed, too. In fact, they see Kobeevery day.

Joaquin Arias is his stunt double.

Whenever he makes a good play we yell Koh-BEEE! ClayHensley said. We were wondering why he went up there to watch the game.Somehow he got dressed real quick, I guess.

On a more somber note, best wishes to former Giant JeromeWilliams, who exited the game in the fourth inning and then ended up in thehospital when he had difficulty breathing. Based on reports from Angelsofficials, he is stable and doing well but will be held overnight as aprecaution. Hes expected at the ballpark on Tuesday.

The uncertainty and scary nature of the news reminded me ofthe night on the Angels beat in 2000 when left-hander Kent Mercker fell to one knee on the mound and had to behelped off the field. None of us knew how he was injured or how serious it was.Mercker suffered a cerebral hemmhorage a one in-a-million shot and camevery close to losing his life. He ended up making a full recovery, and was ableto resume his career, too.

We shouldnt need reminders that life is fragile and thatevery day is a gift to be appreciated.

McCutchen Mailbag: What does trade mean for Giants' young outfielders?

McCutchen Mailbag: What does trade mean for Giants' young outfielders?

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will introduce Evan Longoria on Friday at AT&T Park (we’ll be airing it and doing Facebook Live, so get ready) and at some point they figure to get Andrew McCutchen up on a podium with a brand new jersey. 

At that point, McCutchen can talk a bit more about his new team and his walk year. For now, let’s run through some questions about the trade and what might come next … 

How are you liking this move, Alex? I love it. — @DionTheDude

I was an advocate of taking a step back in 2018 and rebuilding a bit for the future, but the Giants were never going to do that. So, if you’re going to go for it, I think McCutchen is the perfect fit and a really savvy move. I also don’t think it cost the Giants very much. For my full thoughts, check out the Emergency Andrew McCutchen Podcast I did with Ahmed Fareed. 

Slater showed some promise with the glove last season. Do you see him as an option in center field? 566 career CF innings in the minors. — @BrooksKnudsen 

I do, and at the winter meetings, team officials talked about him playing all three outfield spots. At the time it seemed the emphasis would be right field, but with McCutchen now out there, I would guess Slater sees most of his time in left with starts in center, as well. A lot of people asked about Slater, Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson etc. Simply put, the Giants are now in a position that normal teams hope to be in. They don’t have to rush some of these guys into a ton of starts in the outfield. The ones who have options can ride the Sacramento-San Francisco shuttle and provide more talent than in the past when a player gets hurt -- and on this old team, players will get hurt. Parker is out of options, but you’ll see some other familiar names fill out the outfield in Triple-A. If you missed it yesterday, here's the plan for Steven Duggar. 

Could the Giants go the Dee Gordon route and just sign Eduardo Nuñez to play center? - @raj_sidhu_123

I liked what the Mariners did with Dee Gordon, but Nuñez was pretty rough in left field last year. Having said that, I recently asked about him as a potential February addition, perhaps on a minor league deal if his market just turns out to be completely dry. I was told, “Nuñey is going to be just fine,” so I assume that he has some solid infield offers in hand. 

How about some pitching? - @pablodiablow 

My friend, we’re on the same page. The bullpen has been bad for two years and just lost a promising arm in Kyle Crick. Hopefully Derek Law fills that void, but he’s coming off a down year. I think they need another bullpen arm and another starter, because it would be rather shortsighted to build a lineup that you think can contend, and then turn the back end of the rotation over to a bunch of rookies. I expect a veteran or two to be in camp to compete for an Opening Day job. 

Does this mean Billy Hamilton is still possible? - @Gaberino4 

In conversations with sources, I haven’t heard Hamilton’s name in weeks. It was McCutchen, McCutchen, McCutchen at some point. I think that ship has likely sailed, as the Reds set a high asking price and didn’t waiver. Per Zach Buchanan, one of their beat writers, Hamilton is expected to start the season in Cincinnati. 

Was hanging onto Belt a priority? Seems like that would’ve been an ideal contract to get rid of given their cap issues. — @JoshSessler 

Yes, I’m told Belt was made just about untouchable at the start of the offseason, and frankly not many teams have asked about him given his potentially scary concussion issues. But to a larger point, holding Belt should’ve been a priority. He’s a good baseball player. End of story. Sorry, Belt Bashers. Even with McCutchen and Longoria, if I had to bet on who will lead the 2018 Giants in OPS, I would choose Belt. He should benefit quite a bit from hitting lower in the order. 

Do you have an estimate of how much money they still have for a center fielder? - @PeteDeBoerWar 

According to Cot’s, the best tracker out there, the Giants have about $4.4 million until they reach the tax. They were helped by the Pirates picking up $2.5 million of McCutchen’s $14.75 million deal. I think the actual number is $3-4 million under the tax, so that’s the budget for a defense-first center fielder, if that’s the way they go. 

You think they should go for Lorenzo Cain at a reasonable price now even if they lose the second-round pick? - @pejvahdat 

I do not. Cain is still going to be very expensive and he turns 32 in April, so forgive me for immediately thinking about the years I’ve spent covering an aging Angel Pagan and Denard Span. Cain is a much better defender than either of those two, but still, I think he comes with a lot of risk. Plus, the Giants just traded two of their top five prospects and they have a poor farm system. They need to nail those second- and fifth-round picks next year and add to what appeared to be a very good draft in 2017. At some point, a rebuild is coming. 

Where are all the people wanting Bobby Evans’ head now? — @kmav88

Oh, they’re still on Twitter. I still hear from them every day. Make no mistake about it, if this doesn’t work and the Giants fall well short of the postseason again, this will all come down on the front office. But for now, Evans has to be sleeping better. At the end of the day, he came away from the offseason with Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, and so far he’s kept ownership from paying the tax again and given them two new stars to sell. That’ll play. 

Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster


Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster

The Giants added two premier face of the franchise players this offseason in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Together the two have combined for eight All-Star Game appearances. 

What they don't bring to San Francisco though, is youth. Longoria (32) and McCutchen (31) are the latest to join an again Giants roster. Buster Posey turn 31 in March, Johnny Cueto turns 32 in February, Hunter Pence turns 35 in April, Brandon Crawford turns 31 in January, and Brandon Belt turns 30 in April.

Father Time though, is far from getting Longoria and the rest of the Giants' stars according to the third baseman. 

"I believe that all of us believe we're in our prime and we are more than capable of competing," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "That's just ways of making waves in the news. Our job is to just go out and do our job. I think we'll be just fine." 

Longoria is entering his 11th season in the big leagues. That has certainly added wear and tear on him, but also added knowledge of his body. 

"I'm definitely a different player," Longoria says now at 32 compared to 22. "There's a lot of ways that I prepare now that I didn't have to do or I didn't know how to do when I was a younger player. For me personally, it's going to be quite an experience."

While Longoria and McCutchen may not have the freshest pair of legs in baseball, they are two of the most durable players in the game. In 2017, both players appeared in 156 out of 162 games.

"Being prepared for the season is one thing and I know how to do that and I know how to get myself ready for that," Longoria said. "It's just a matter of the day in and day out homework so to speak that I'll have to do. That's gonna change based on the league and based on the division."