Giants feel Stanton meeting went well, but they continue to wait


Giants feel Stanton meeting went well, but they continue to wait

SAN FRANCISCO -- Late in a 98-loss season, Giants coaches and officials often brought up some version of the same concern: "We're not just bad, we're also boring."

It remains to be seen if the next variation of the Giants roster will be much better. But you can say definitively that the race to piece it together certainly hasn't been boring.

Giants officials woke up Monday morning waiting to hear if Giancarlo Stanton will waive his no-trade clause, clearing the way for the Marlins to trade him. At the same time, they are preparing to meet face to face with Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, a potential two-way star.

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans already had one big meeting, sitting down with Stanton and his representatives last week in Los Angeles. Per sources familiar with the discussion, the Giants came away from that meeting feeling that it had gone very well. There is increased optimisim in the organization that this will actually happen, assuming Stanton gives his blessing. 

Stanton, though, still has not given an indication one way or the other. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported over the weekend that he did not eliminate the Giants or Cardinals during separate meetings last week, but there has also been no indication that he has agreed to waive his no-trade clause. The Giants believe they have the right trade package in place, so they've tried to alleviate Stanton's specific concerns. Those include, per sources, financial concerns. Stanton stands to lose somewhere between $20-25 million over the course of the deal by switching from Florida's tax code to California's, and it's believed that his representatives have introduced such issues. 

The Giants are not unfamiliar with this type of play. Johnny Cueto hoped to have the final year of his contract turned into a guaranteed year instead of a club option, and it's possible Stanton's side has introduced the same type of arrangement for his 2028 option. The sides also could agree on changes to his opt-out clause to try and sweeten the deal. 

From a baseball perspective, the Giants appear comfortable with the case they're making. Stanton has brought specific roster-related questions to the team, but the Giants did not -- at least last week -- feel he needed to be swayed by players. Unlike in the past, they did not call in some of their stars, relying instead on Sabean and Evans for a conversation that's believed to have centered mostly around business.

The same will not hold true when the front office meets with Ohtani this week. The Giants can offer him only $300,000, but they are one of seven finalists according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, and the decision will be made purely on baseball terms. In that respect, the Giants feel they have plenty to offer. They already have mapped out a schedule for Ohtani should he choose to try and play both ways in San Francisco, giving him the chance to start every turn and also pile up more than 300 at-bats. At the very least, that presentation was intriguing enough to get them to the finalist round. 

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”