Giants

EXTRA BAGGS: Posey feels right at home in the clutch, etc.

819603.jpg

EXTRA BAGGS: Posey feels right at home in the clutch, etc.

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA The visiting dugout was jammed as full as a commuter train.

The Giants had posted a stretch time of 5:05 p.m. A good olSouthern thunderstorm had pushed back the schedule to 5:20,but word didnt get around in time. All the players sat down or milled aboutthe dugout, watching the intermittent, fat drops fall a few inches from theirfaces.

All but Buster Posey. He was a few crow-hops away, signingautographs.

You could understand why. Posey grew up three hours and aworld away in Leesburg, Ga., and Braves were the team he grew up watching.Turner Field was his template for a Major League stadium. When he stepped ontothe grass here, it was all too easy to slough off his workaday mindset and bethat giddy kid again.

But then the game started Tuesday night and Posey turned an0-2 count into a 2-2 count and turned a slider into an RBI double that got theGiants on the board. (And it was only a double because Posey tore out of thebatters box, sprinting as hard as Ive seen him sprint all season to stretch asingle.)

In his next at-bat, he had another two-out, two-strike countwith a runner in scoring position. Braves starter Jair Jurrjens tried a changeup this time.Posey hit a hard single through the left side, scoring another run.

Then in the fourth, he had another two-strike count with thebases loaded. He cleared them all with a double.

He finished with five RBIs, one short of matching his careerhigh. David OBrien, the terrific Braves beat reporter for the AtlantaJournal-Constitution, tweeted that Posey opened up a can on the Braves. (He left out the "whoopass," but I think it was understood.)

A game like this is precisely what the Giants missed mostwhen they didnt have Posey in the second half last season. Remember, that teamhit .173 in 613 at-bats with two outs and runners in scoring position the lowestby a major league team in four decades for which data is available. That total lackof clutch hitting, and Poseys injury, were the two main reasons the Giantswent from World Series champions to shut out of the postseason.

This year, they are not much better in the clutch. At theAll-Star break, they were hitting.184 with RISPand two outs. Only the San Diego Padres had been more un-clutchy.

These things can get contagious.When everyone is aware of the team-wide failings, each hitter is prone to trytoo hard, do too much, take themselves out of their approach to change it.

If theres a most polished, mostbrilliant facet to Poseys game, its his ability to stay within his approach.If he's able to come through, able to provide that up-close example, maybe it's easier for his teammates to relax and stay within themselves, too.

Posey let that facet gleam Tuesday night, in a place where he might have become unnerved orskittish just a few years earlier. But not anymore.

Maybe Posey might sign a few more autographs at TurnerField. Maybe he might allow himself to feel that tingle of excitement as hebuttons up a big league uniform. But when the game starts, hes back tobusiness-like Buster.

He acknowledged that wasnt the case the last and only timehed played a regular-season series here, when he went 1 for 11 over threegames in 2010.

I think it was a little more relaxed probably, for sure,Posey said, but not after offering tongue-in-cheek thanks to a reporter forbringing up that rough series in 2010. Its kind of knowing what to expect,because I dont get the opportunity to play in front of people I grew up withthat much. This time, yeah, I was definitely more relaxed.

His parents were here, and his grandparents. He didnt havea huge number of tickets. But he kept seeing familiar faces in the crowd orrunning into voices from the past as they called from the stands.

A lot of people I didnt necessarily know were coming, hesaid, smiling like someone who just walked into a well-staged surprise party.

Posey is likely to catch every inning the rest of the serieshere, because of Hector Sanchezs sprained left knee. Will he be prepared forthat?

Oh yeah, he said.

--
What is Poseys plan with two strikes, exactly?

Well, he doesnt panic, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.He uses the whole field. Some guys have that gift to put the ball in play.Its what he does so well.

Said Posey: I just try to battle, see the ball a long time and give myself achance.

--
On the day that the Kansas City Royals designated JonathanSanchez for assignment, the Giants scored their first 9-0 victory in Atlantasince Sept. 29, 1976 when John Montefusco threw his no-hitter at FultonCounty Stadium.

Sanchez, as you know, in 2009 became the first Giant tothrow a no-hitter since Montefusco.

Sanchez is making almost 6 million this season, so Id be shockedif any team claimed him off waivers in the next 10 days. If he gets outrighted,would he make an intriguing reclamation project for Dave Righetti and theGiants coaching staff? Maybe. But I have a feeling that the front officedoesnt harbor many warm feelings for Sanchez after so many maddening outingsover the years.

And yes, the Melky Cabrera trade was the heist of the offseason.

--
Aubrey Huff was 0-for-4 with four groundouts to the right side as the DH for Triple-A Fresno at Las Vegas on Tuesday.

--
Because many have asked (and if they didnt, Id remind youanyway), my Jeopardy! episode will air on Friday. To see a very quick andawkward video clip, visit the official site here.

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew McCutchen has spent his entire career as a center fielder. With a new team comes a new position. 

Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed on Tuesday that McCutchen will move to right field for the Giants, with Hunter Pence sliding over from right to left. Bochy said he talked to McCutchen about the plan -- one the Giants had throughout the McCutchen chase -- after Monday's trade. 

"I'm looking forward to right field," McCutchen said. "That's one place people can't pick on me saying that my defensive metrics are so bad. I'm looking forward to playing right. I know there's a lot of room out there to run, so it's definitely going to be almost like playing center."

McCutchen said he's looking forward to picking Pence's brain about patrolling right field at AT&T Park. Bochy has already spoken to Pence and said his longtime right fielder is on board with the plan. 

"He's just so excited about getting Cutch on this club that he's good with anything or whatever is best for this club," Bochy said. "So that's the plan right now."

McCutchen has played 11,621 defensive innings in his career and all but 115 1/3 of them have been in center field. He briefly moved to right field last season but shifted back to center when Starling Marte was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. McCutchen was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012 but his defensive metrics tailed off in recent seasons. He was worth negative 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016 and was at negative 16 DRS last season. 

McCutchen had wanted to stay in center in Pittsburgh, but said it's a new case with a new team.

"I wasn’t too keen on (moving at first) because I felt that I had more there, that I could do something there (in center)," he said. "I honored (the Pirates) once they wanted me to play a little shallower and that backfired on me. I was basically asking for another shot but I didn’t get that chance or opportunity. But now that I’m going into the Giants organization and this is something they want me to do, I’m all for it.

"San Francisco has a huge field. It’s bigger than PNC Park. They’ve got Triples Alley and it’s called Triples Alley for a reason. For me, it’s another center field. I’m moving over a little and if it’s saving my legs and I can get more stolen bases, I’m all game and I’m all for it.”

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

mccutchen-andrew-pink-panik.jpg
USATSI

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — There was a sense of celebration within the Giants organization on Monday after the addition of Andrew McCutchen. He is easily their best outfielder, a potential solution atop the order, and a player who is known for being a tremendous presence in the clubhouse. 

If the Giants had any doubts, though, they surely felt better after seeing the quotes that came out of Pittsburgh. In a series of statements, Pirates officials made it clear this was a difficult trade to make, with chairman Bob Nutting calling it “one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure.”

Nutting, in a statement, said that McCutchen’s smile and energy were infectious even as a teenager. Later, McCutchen got the Pirates to three straight postseason appearances. 

“He did so while always carrying himself with humility, dignity and grace,” Nutting said. 

Team president Frank Coonelly described the trade as painful. 

“(No) individual was more responsible for the success that we had from 2013 to 2015 than Cutch,” Coonelly said in a statement,” And no player was more disappointed than Andrew that we did not break through and win a World Series Championship for the City of Pittsburgh.”

McCutchen was Pittsburgh’s first-round selection in the 2005 draft and made his debut in 2009. In nine seasons with the Pirates, he was a five-time All-Star and a perennial MVP candidate. He won the award in 2013 and finished in the top five of voting for four consecutive seasons. 

General manager Neal Huntington said the decision to actually part with the franchise player was “incredibly difficult.”

“Watching Andrew patrol center field with grace, fly around the bases, drive the ball all around the ballpark, celebrate with his teammates or interact with his family, friends or fans has created lifelong memories for me and many, many others around the game of baseball,” he said.