Giants

Fighting Giants ride Scutaro to walk-off win over Arizona

872307.jpg

Fighting Giants ride Scutaro to walk-off win over Arizona

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Long before he laced a single past a divingDiamondback for a walk-off single in the Giants 9-8 win, Marco Scutaro was lettingloose in the Giants clubhouse by taking Hunter Pences new motorized scooterfor a joy ride.Five hours later, Scutaro tried to scoot away from a mob scene of teammateslooking to pulverize their new ringer, who came over from the Rockies in a inlate July trade.For all the attention the rival Los Angeles Dodgers received for their multipleblockbuster trades to acquire Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Co., the mostvaluable mercenary so far this season might be a man by the name of Marco.In 36 games with San Francisco, Scutaro has hit .322 with nine doubles, twohome runs and 22 RBIs. He has hit safely in 28 of his 36 games as a Giant. Hes just a professional player, said Buster Posey, whoset the stage for Scutaro with a similarly placed game-tying hit in the ninth.He does it on defense and then he gives you a great at-bat every time. Hes aguy that goes up there with a plan, has an idea of what he wants to do and hesbeen huge for us.What was Scutaros plan?I just go there with a plan and try and get a good pitch tohit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. Thats pretty much my plan.It may seem like a simple approach, but it has led to a successful 11-year MLBcareer and earned praise from his skipper.Ive always admired Marcos play, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Ivealways respected how he plays the game. Hes so professional with how he goesabout his business.It was business as usual when Scutaro picked up his third hit of the afternoonin the 10th inning; and it was the culmination of an impressivecomeback.The Giants scored four runs in the first inning to give Barry Zito an earlylead, but the veteran southpaw, 36-3 in his career when given that muchsupport, unraveled after four sparkling innings. Zito struck out five in hisfirst two frames, but gave up a two-run shot in the fifth and allowedback-to-back singles to open the sixth. That forced Bochy to turn to GuillermoMota, who allowed both runs to score and opened the floodgates for a five-runinning. Down 7-4 after six innings, the Giants scored once in the seventh onlyto watch Arizona take that run back in the top of the eight. But Bochys clubcontinued to claw back into the game, scoring twice in the home half of theeighth before tying the game with a run in the ninth and winning it onScutaros knock in the 10th.Tremendous comeback, especially when you have the four-run lead and couldnthold it and couldnt get that last out in the sixth for a while, Bochy said. Thefellas fought hard off some good pitching.Fighting seemed to be a common theme in the victorious clubhouse.Were just showing a lot of fight right now, showing a lotof character, Zito said. We just keep fighting. Were relentless. Its justawesome.Its always exciting to get a walk-off, but the importantthing is it was a great team effort, Scutaro said. We never give up; we justkeep fighting. We didnt put our head down, we just keep fighting and play hardall the way till the end.The team effort that Scutaro made sure to mention was aproduct of an expanded roster that included players like Jean Machi, whocontributed with a scoreless ninth inning in his MLB debut, and Brett Pill, wholaid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Brandon Crawford, the eventualgame-winning run, into scoring position ahead of Scutaros single.It makes it a little tougher when you have so many playersthere, Bochy said of his inflated roster. The thinking process is a littlebit longer right now because you have more choices and decisions. For example, with Hector Sanchez, wemade the double switch there and Pill goes in the game and lays down a perfectbunt and helps us win the ballgame.It was the first career sacrifice bunt for Pill, who said he wasnt sure if heeven had one in the minor leagues. But he said that he learned buntingfundamentals at Cal State Fullerton and told bench coach Ron Wotus that he wasready to put those skills to the test.We did check with him when he was up here earlier, Bochy said. He can handlethe bat. He laid down a perfect bunt. Theres no question we were going to askhim to bunt at that point.Pills bunt was part of an unorthodox offensive effort in San Francisco, butone that is obviously working as the Giants are in first place and aseason-high 19-games over .500 at 77-58. Long balls are rare at AT&T Park,but clutch hitting has become the norm of late. The Giants went 9-for-15 with runners in scoringposition, including three doubles, a triple and all nine of their RBIs.Its pretty impressive watching this offense do its work,Zito said. They are scrappy. We dont hit a ton of home runs. We just fightand manufacture runs. Pill laid down a huge bunt today and thats a hugeindicator of what weve been doing.What the Giants have been doing is slowly but surelyextending a division lead over the Dodgers. And while Bochy isnt ready to lookahead, he is aware of the extra eyes focused on his club.Theres a lot more attention on these games now, Bochysaid. Every games intense, but the intensity goes up a little bit inSeptember.Every win counts the same in the standings, but it wasnthard to pick up on a vibe that the Giants were aware this one wasnt just anyordinary win.Its huge; every game is huge, as we know, Zito said. Butyoure going to lose a few. And when theres some games where it looks likeyoure going to lose, and then you come back and win, thats just in the bonuscolumn. Its those ones that really make the difference when the years over,the ones that we just kind of scrapped and ended up taking it.Posey, a player who has shown himself to be wary of hyperbole, didnt mince hiswords when he described Mondays win.Its probably one of, if not the best, wins of the year,he said. Especially just bouncing out to an early lead and the DBacks comingback and taking the lead. It felt like we were a little flat there in themiddle of the game. To pick it up and come away with the win is big.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

gillaspie-moncrief-usatsi.jpg
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.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

righetti-dugout-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

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.