Giants notes: Bumgarner draws a crowd in KC; Latest on Posey, Bochy

Giants notes: Bumgarner draws a crowd in KC; Latest on Posey, Bochy

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals do not expect big crowds for this midweek series against a National League team, even if that team is the one that knocked them out in 2014. Madison Bumgarner drew a crowd on Tuesday, though. 

Bumgarner was surrounded by 14 local reporters and cameramen just before batting practice, and he certainly enjoyed looking back at the biggest night of his career. 

"Obviously those are some of the best memories of my career," he said, smiling. "It's a pretty special place to come back to. I love the city, the field, playing those guys. I'm not good at ranking stuff, but if you force me to, I do think (Game 7) has got to be number one for me."

If you missed it, I wrote an oral history of the moment Bumgarner jogged out of the visiting bullpen here. He went out early Tuesday to do some stretching and running, but he stuck to left field, never crossing over to go see the spot where he sat for four innings. 

Bumgarner spent some time talking to Royals players after he did his work, and he'll see another familiar face this week. Whit Merrifield, a 28-year-old infielder, was called up by the Royals. He grew up in North Carolina, playing with and against Bumgarner, who did not remember any specific battles. Merrifield did; he told local reporters that Bumgarner hit him in the head with a pitch when they were 11 years old. 

"I did?" Bumgarner said. "Geez, I don't remember that. I'm sure it was an accident."

--- A couple other "we're back in KC" notes: Hunter Strickland is a bit curious to see what kind of reaction he gets if he pitches. Remember, Strickland had a heated moment with Sal Perez early in the series. He said the two spoke the next day and all was good. Also, Johnny Cueto is back two years after helping them get a title here. He spent a lot of time with Royals on Tuesday. 

--- Ned Yost was not in the mood for questions about the Giants or Bumgarner. "It's just another series," he said. 

--- Buster Posey will likely DH both games, Ron Wotus said. Posey is cleared to catch, however, and he said he feels good and did three or four days after getting hit. 

"I'm very grateful that I felt well as quickly as I did," Posey said. "Obviously, we've seen where something like that lasted longer for certain guys."

--- Here's the latest on Bruce Bochy, who underwent what is being described as a minor heart procedure in San Diego. And here's Ray Ratto with a big-picture look. This is the third heart-related scare for Bochy in three years. 

"We just want him to take care of himself, take his time, and make sure he's cleared," Posey said. "What we do (on the field) is secondary to other things in life."

--- Jeremy Affeldt will make his broadcast debut tonight. He's fired up about it, and he walked around the clubhouse Tuesday saying he now has authority to set the lineup. (He does not.)


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.