Giants Notes: Okert's beer shower; pair of injured players sent to Arizona

Giants Notes: Okert's beer shower; pair of injured players sent to Arizona

LOS ANGELES -- The new visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium is narrow, which at times makes it the perfect runway. Wednesday was one of those times. After picking up his first career win, left-hander Steven Okert was stuffed into a cart. 

"They rolled me in there," Okert said. "I got the shower."

The beer shower is a tradition for pitchers who pick up their first win. It's been going on for decades, with some slight tweaks (these days players are very aware of the location of their phone). Okert's journey was well-earned, and not just because he recorded five outs. Two nights earlier, he got five outs before turning the ball over to Derek Law for a one-out save. 

"I set him up this time," Law said, smiling. 

Okert came on in the ninth with a runner on. He got Corey Seager to ground into a double play. The 10th brought three more outs.

"Both games he played such a critical role in winning the ballgame," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got the win, his first, and good for him. What a great job he did. It was much-needed, too."

Teams have been stacking lefty starters against the Dodgers, but Okert put a twist on it. He churned through outs in the bullpen, and he said he figured that might be the case. 

"I had a feeling I might throw a little more here," he said. "I had three days off against San Diego and I came in feeling good and feeling ready. I knew coming into this that it was a possibility of something like this."

The Giants and Dodgers do not look headed for a late-September race to the finish. But their games always mean a little more, and it appears Okert will be a huge part of this season's matchups. 

--- From last night, here's my game story. The win was No. 1,800 for Bochy. Eight previous managers won 1,800 games and three World Series titles and all are in the Hall of Fame. It's been a lock for Bochy for some time. 

--- Joe Panik had two more hits, including a deep double off Julio Urias. The splits are what they are, but maybe that knock was enough to get him a full-time tryout atop the lineup. At the very least, he figures to be there Friday against right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who is still pitching somehow. 

Panik's double almost wasn't one. Say what you will about Yasiel Puig, but nobody makes that play as close as he did. He remains one of the most exciting players in the game, and Panik had to hustle for two on a ball that hit the wall. He said he looked up and saw Puig grab it and turn.

"It's, 'Alright, well you better kick it into another gear if you've got one,'" he said. "There's nothing that surprises me with him anymore. He's got a great arm."

--- The clubhouse won't be as full against the Reds. Aaron Hill (forearm) left Wednesday to head to Arizona for more rehab and another MRI. Bochy said this is "taking longer than we thought and he thought. It's just not coming around as first hoped." Denard Span is also going to the facility in Scottsdale. That one is also up in the air a little. 

Brandon Crawford took BP and did quite a bit of baseball work on the field Thursday. It will be a close call when the 10 days on the DL are up. Crawford hopes to return to the lineup Saturday, but the staff is being a bit more cautious. Bochy said Crawford will need to be 100 percent to return. 

"With the difficult types of plays that he has to make, you can't bring him back (early)," he said. 

--- If you missed it, Panik was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download on iTunes here.

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants


Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season


Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after the Giants lost one of the game's most durable pitchers, they took a much bigger blow. 

Madison Bumgarner fractured the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive Friday in what was to be his final appearance before facing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Day. The Giants did not have an immediate timetable for how long their ace will be out, but he is expected to miss a significant portion of the season for a second straight year. The rotation is already without Jeff Samardzija for the first month of the season because of a strained pectoral.

Bumgarner told reporters he will have surgery on Saturday to insert pins into his hand. He expects the pins to be removed in four-to-six weeks, and that he'll be able to pitch before the All-Star break. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that, in all, Bumgarner will be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Bumgarner looked poised for a huge season, and he threw well all camp. He was injured when hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Whit Merrifield. Ironically, Bumgarner and Merrifield grew up close to each other in North Carolina, and Merrifield has told a story about getting beamed by an intimidating 11-year-old Bumgarner in little league.

The Giants had little rotation depth coming into the season, and the group is now in shambles. Derek Holland, a non-roster invitee, may be the No. 2 starter. The Giants will also have to lean heavily on young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. Johnny Cueto is the de facto ace, but he's coming off a down year and at times has struggled this spring. 

There are not many appealing options left in free agency and the Giants likely would have to go into the tax to sign one. Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top in-house options.