Giants fall to Cubs, but Jones, Moncrief continue to show off natural ability

Giants fall to Cubs, but Jones, Moncrief continue to show off natural ability

SAN FRANCISCO -- Late in the spring, Ryder Jones hit a mammoth homer at Camelback Ranch that had coaches talking for days. Perhaps that was rumbling around somewhere in Bruce Bochy's head when he was asked about his slumping rookie before Monday's game.

"He'll figure it out," Bochy said.

It didn't take long.

Jones, the 23-year-old infielder, provided one of the few highlights in a 5-3 loss to the Cubs when he smacked a Jake Arrieta offering into the arcade section in deep right field. He later traded some tickets for the keepsake, which was put in a plastic case with the date and pitcher's name on it. 

“It’s definitely cool to get your first off a guy like him,” Jones said. “He’s been absolutely nasty the last couple of years.”

Jones entered in an 0-for-13 slump, but he got advice from a couple of people before Monday’s game. One was a likely source; hitting coach Hensley Meulens is helping Jones stay through the ball better and simplify his swing. One was an unlikely source; Pablo Sandoval, who is competing with Jones for future time at third, told the rookie to calm down and show off the approach that had him on a tear when Sandoval was trying to find his swing as Jones’ Triple-A teammate. 

The shot brought some life back to AT&T Park, which did not sell out, even with thousands of Cubs fans in attendance, but ultimately it was too little, too late. Matt Moore gave up five runs and the Giants went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the first four innings. That one hit did not drive in a run.

“It comes down to guys getting hits with runners on base,” Bochy said. “Not putting up those early runs hurt us.”

The Cubs capitalized on their end, most notably on a play that oddly provided a highlight for both sides. Javier Baez hit a pitch to Triples Alley in the second and took off when it bounced off a padded wall and back towards the foul line. Last week, Carlos Moncrief spent some pre-game time in right field working on bounces off the bricks and archways. The staff never anticipated him needing to get used to such an odd bounce off the normal part of the wall. Baez raced all the way home, but the play was bang-bang when Moncrief unleashed an absurd throw from deep right. 

“There wasn’t much he could do about it,” Bochy said. “He’s tracking the ball to the wall there. It took a nice hop for them but I think he showed the arm he has with that throw home. This guy has got a gun.”

Moncrief showed it off again on a fly ball to right with a runner on second. His bullet to third sent a ripple through the ballpark and surely will be on all future scouting reports.

“My whole life I’ve had a strong arm,” Moncrief said. “I try to make the most of it by throwing with accuracy.”

The arm is already the stuff of legend. Moncrief’s teammates weren’t surprised by the throw. He did, after all, clock 97 mph in a mop-up assignment for Triple-A Sacramento earlier this season. As he walked out of the park, Moncrief said he would call his wife and ask her how the plays looked on television. Perhaps he should call his high school football coach, too, and ask a pointed question. Moncrief did not play quarterback. 

“I was the tight end for some reason,” he said.

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

One week in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.