Giants fire base coaches Roberto Kelly, Bill Hayes

Giants fire base coaches Roberto Kelly, Bill Hayes

SAN FRANCISCO — Two days after a stunning collapse that ended the Giants’ season, the axe fell on the coaching staff. The Giants let go of first base coach Bill Hayes and third base coach Roberto Kelly.

Hayes, who turns 59 later this month, was in his 17th year in the organization and second at first base. Kelly, 52, spent two years in place of Tim Flannery. He was in his ninth year in the organization.

“We feel we need to grow our leadership on the field in terms of how we approach our base running and our overall efforts first-to-third, second-to-home,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “We want to look at some different leadership there and we feel like we can get stronger.”

Per FanGraphs, the Giants ranked 10th in the National League in BsR, a metric that tracks work on the bases. They were dead last in a division where games are usually not won with power. It is generally hard to make concrete judgements on the work of base coaches, but Kelly had several high-profile mistakes and was said to be in hot water behind closed doors all season long. The Hayes move was also rumored for several months as management looked for new voices. 

Evans said the rest of the coaching staff is expected to return. Team officials would not go into detail Thursday when asked about potential replacements, and Evans said it was too early to say if Kelly and Hayes would stay on staff in some other capacity. 

“We’re still in process with that now,” he said. “I can’t answer that in detail, we’re in process.”

The Giants are expected to look in-house for replacements. Shawon Dunston, Eli Whiteside and Steve Decker could be potential options, and popular Triple-A manager Jose Alguacil will surely be at or near the top of any list. Alguacil joined the staff after the minor league season ended in September, and he is the type of exuberant, positive personality that walked out the door when Flannery retired following the 2014 title. 

Flannery now works for CSN Bay Area and MLB Network, and he has said repeatedly over the past two years that he is happy with his new role and has no desire to return to coaching. 


In other coaching news, Evans said one team has reached out about bench coach Ron Wotus, but it’s unclear if Wotus will actually interview for one of the remaining open managerial jobs. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are searching for new leaders. Wotus declined comment, saying he was still focused on the way the season ended. 

There’s one man who will certainly be back for years to come. Manager Bruce Bochy was hospitalized for a night in August, but he said that’s not an issue. Bochy signed a three-year extension in 2015 that kicks in next season and carries through 2019.

“I’m fine, trust me. I’m fine,” Bochy said. “My health really has nothing to do with the stress of this game. I did happen to get a bad gene from my dad and I’ll thank him for that when I see him. I work out every day. It’s not a situation where I’m thinking I need to take a break. No, I’m hungry. I’m hungry to get back to the World Series and win another one.”

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.”