Is Giants’ buzzard luck suddenly turning into swan?


Is Giants’ buzzard luck suddenly turning into swan?

Bruce Bochy cringed a bit when he saw Buster Posey and then Angel Pagan decided to salute Los Angeles Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday. But the fact that neither of them got hurt or had Friday night’s game otherwise ruined by their interventions may be a sign that the San Francisco Giants may be cured.

But first, a clarification. Yes, we mean Rick Monday. Not the other guy, the plucky little ginger named Scully everybody’s been going on about this month.

No we’re talking about Monday, the former Athletic and Dodger still best known for laying out a fan who wanted to burn the American flag in the  Dodger Stadium outfield four decades ago.

Posey and Pagan decided to meter out a little ballyard justice of their own to a Dodger fan who decided to get a little too interactive during Friday’s 9-3 Giants win. Posey shoved the daffy miscreant who had taken to the field with a compatriot, and then after said fan sprung back to his feet, running past Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford before Pagan beckoned him forward with a seeming spirit of generosity and then delivered a spite-infused takedown, thus breaking the fellow’s roll for good.

[WATCH: Pagan body slams fan that ran onto field at AT&T Park]

And like we said, neither was harmed, and the way the Giants had been going since mid-July, one half-expected them both to combust violently and be left as equally sized soot piles.

So maybe that’s something. Maybe it’s also something that first baseman Brandon Belt got hit in the hand with a J.P. Howell fastball and stayed in the game rather than going to administrative disabling for a few months.

And maybe it’s just something that the most inert offense in baseballdom has suddenly, with vertebrae pressed wallward, has scored 28 runs in four games –- one of which was a 2-0 shutout loss.

In short, maybe, at the last desperate moment of a very desperate season, the Giants’ 70 days of buzzard luck is suddenly turning into that of a swan.

At this point, the ever-popular 3S Caveat comes into play -– Small, Sample and Size.

The Giants are only as good as Saturday’s starter, Ty Blach, can be against Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw; only as good as their ability to make a small rally turn into a conga line, as they did in the seven-run sixth inning off Brandon McCarthy; only as good as their ability not to let the Dodgers hold an early lead any longer than they did Friday -– four hitters’ worth.

In other words, all they did Friday was shave off one more day on the St. Louis Cardinals’ fleeting hopes of either passing them and playing the Mets Wednesday, or catching them and hosting a play-in game to the play-in game Monday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

Not that that isn’t useful, mind you. The Giants spent a good deal of energy keeping the Cardinals at arm’s length Friday evening, as they did Thursday, but it is energy they have expended before in wise and productive ways.

But Friday was one of those nights when a lot of things could go goofy, and didn’t. In obtaining his 100th career victory, Bumgarner lasted 7 1/3 innings, delivered a two-run double in the happy sixth, and three times resisted the lure of Yasiel Puig flashback -– even after Puig touched him for a run-scoring double in the first.

And while this does no good for cheap-thrill-o-philes, it combined with the good news on the Belt, Posey and Pagan fronts to make for a pleasant evening at the Charnel House On Third. And with only two afternoons left to navigate, the Giants might find themselves back in familiar surroundings come mid-week –- Game 163 -– and with nothing much to complain about by way of luck or performance.

You, the amalgamated Giants fan, may now knock on an entire forest, going from tree to tree in hopes of finding the good fortune that they have evaded, and that has evaded them, since Bastille Day.

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder


Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder

The Giants almost made it through spring training with no serious injuries.

But as they get set to leave Arizona for the Bay Area, Jeff Samardzija is dealing with a shoulder issue.

On Wednesday, Samardzija pitched in a minor league game. He gave up two homers, hit a batter in the fourth inning and was pulled from the game.

A day later, the Giants announced that Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, results of the MRI will be known later Thursday evening.

Samardzija's numbers in official spring training games this year are ugly. In 11 innings, he's 17 hits, 13 earned runs and six home runs.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”