Giants catcher Nick Hundley wins prestigious Willie Mac Award

Giants catcher Nick Hundley wins prestigious Willie Mac Award

SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t until the last couple of months that Nick Hundley got an everyday role with the Giants, but his presence has been felt since pitchers and catchers reported in early February. 

Hundley, a veteran catcher in his first year with the Giants, is a clubhouse favorite, and on Friday he was voted the 2017 winner of the Willie Mac Award. The award is given annually to the player deemed most inspirational, and it is voted on by players, coaches, training staff, fans, and Willie McCovey. 

“It’s pretty overwhelming to be standing here with Giants legends and be mentioned in the same company as Willie McCovey,” Hundley said. “To be mentioned in this company is incredible. I’d like to thank these guys, this coaching staff, the trainers, and everybody who has been grinding it out this year. The fans, too, we know it hasn’t been the best record-wise but you guys have been standing with us the entire year, so thank you very much.”

Hundley became the seventh catcher to win the award. The award has generally gone to everyday members of the lineup, or guys in the rotation, but Hundley made an impact as Buster Posey’s backup. He has nine homers and 23 doubles in 280 at-bats and has developed into a trusted partner for the team’s pitchers. Since Brandon Belt went down with a concussion in August, Hundley has been a right-handed weapon for manager Bruce Bochy. 

The 34-year-old quickly became one of the leaders in the clubhouse, with a work ethic that has him ready to step in at any time. Earlier this month, he said it would be a disservice to Posey and the rest of his teammates if he did not go about his business as if he were a starter. Several teammates have gone out of their way late this season to compliment Hundley’s work in the clubhouse. 

“He’s one of the best (teammates) I’ve ever had,” right-hander Jeff Samardzija said after Hundley hit a walk-off on Sept. 2. 

Brandon Crawford and Javier Lopez shared last season’s award. The other active Giants who have won are Madison Bumgarner (2014), Hunter Pence (2013), Posey (2012) and Matt Cain (2009). 

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role. 

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. The job was previously held by Shane Turner. At the end of the season, team officials hinted that Turner could be one of several members of the organization to be reassigned. 

In a statement, general manager Bobby Evans said Bell will "help shape our ongoing strategy and continued commitment to player development."

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS.

Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.