Giants

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

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Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Monday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Brian Sabean not sure why 'star in the making' Brandon Belt is so polarizing

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USATSI

Brian Sabean not sure why 'star in the making' Brandon Belt is so polarizing

So far this season, Brandon Belt is hitting .304 with six home runs and 12 RBI.

He boasts a .402 on-base percentage.

"We need him. The guy is a star player in the making," Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday. "We hope with the strength of a deeper lineup -- which I think in time will prove to be true -- that he's got a lot that can really help this ball club and contribute in a big way."

So why then is Belt so polarizing?

"I'm not sure," Sabean answered. "There are folks that do swing and miss (Belt has struck out 22 times in 20 games). He's kind of a study in contrast. And while I say that, he's probably got one of the best eyes in the big leagues and can work a count, work an at-bat and take a walk with anybody.

"But what I'm seeing this year is that he's getting to more pitches, where in the past he would not put it in play. He's doing that in a big way. There are just some guys for whatever reason don't square up as many balls as you think they would be capable of.

"He's been a work in progress. He's still a young guy and I think that once he finds his power, he'll be a guy that will be very dangerous in anybody's lineup."

Belt was an All-Star in 2016.

The 30-year old is making $16 million this season, and will earn $16 million each year through 2021.

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ten minutes into his start Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija got a mound visit from manager Bruce Bochy and a member of the training staff. 

His fastball was sitting 89-91 at the time, and given that Samardzija is just two starts removed from a DL stint for a strained pectoral, the concern was understandable. 

"He's fine. We just wanted to check on him at that point," Bochy said. "He said he was fine and as you saw his stuff picked up, which you see sometimes from starting pitchers."

Samardzija did get back to the 93-94 range by the third, which is still a couple ticks from normal for him, but at least isn't concerning. He didn't make it to the fourth, though. A Matt Adams homer put the last three of six runs on his line.

"Just one of those days," Samardzija said. "I've been feeling really good. It just took a little longer today (to get loose). There's really no explanation for it sometimes.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a different script for me right now (coming off the injury). We're going to learn from it and keep getting better and get on to the next one." 

A few Giants need to move on quickly after this one. Josh Osich, coming off a sparkling spring, continued to backslide at the worst possible time. The Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Will Smith next week. Osich was charged with four earned runs. Cory Gearrin walked two of three he faced and cashed in two of Osich's runners. He, too, has fallen down the depth chart a bit.

"They're not on track. O really had some good moments today, lots of swings and misses, but also had trouble getting the ball where he wanted at times," Bochy said. "Cory is battling too much right now instead of going out there and attacking the strike zone. This game is all about confidence and if they get shaken a bit they don't throw the ball with as much conviction."