Giants

Giants-Pirates: What to watch for

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Giants-Pirates: What to watch for

Programming note: Giants 2012 Opening Day coverage begins today at 12 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, then Kruk and Kuip are behind the mic to call the Pirates vs. Giants at 1:30 p.m., only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants open their 13th season at AT&T Park, and there wont be a banner raising or a ring ceremony included in the pregame festivities. Instead, theres rain in the forecast.

The Giants do not expect dampened spirits from the stands, though. The club sold out every game last season and could do the same in 2012, even though last years team missed the playoffs and failed to defend its World Series title

Here are a few things to watch for when the anthems and flyovers are complete, and the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates take the field:

NEW FACES

Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Ryan Theriot and Gregor Blanco will make their home debuts. With his fast start and the flair in his game, Cabrera could establish himself as a fan favorite. Blancos nickname, the White Shark, makes him a natural to be the next hot seller at the plush hat stands. Pagan has spoken with excitement about playing his home games at a ballpark packed with passionate fans. Bet you couldnt guess he was a Met last year.

And then youve got Buster Posey. Despite his case of the shingles, hes expected to start behind the plate. Expect the biggest ovation to be for the Giants beloved catcher, who will be playing his first regular-season game at China Basin since May 25 the night he was involved in a devastating collision near home plate.

SHIVER ME TIMBERS

The Giants havent mopped the poopdeck with the Pirates recently, capturing the season series just three times in the last eight years. Thats not a proud outcome against a franchise that hasnt posted a winning record since Barry Bonds left as a free agent after the 1992 season. (Yes, seriously.)

Last year, the Giants took two of three in PNC Park but lost two of three at home.
RELATED: Stat-Pack -- Giants 9-3 in AT&T Park openers

NO UMBRELLA GIVEAWAY

The weather calls for intermittent showers that should pass through the area by the mid-afternoon. There have been just five rainouts at AT&T Park since the Giants opened their waterfront home in 2000; the last one came April 12, 2006 vs. Houston.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Right-hander James McDonald (0-0, 3.00 ERA) takes on Matt Cain (0-0, 7.50) on Friday. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. PDT.

The Pirates havent announced a starter to oppose Barry Zito (1-0, 0.00) on Saturday (6:05 p.m. PDT).

Former Giants right-hander and 2011 NL All-Star Kevin Correia (0-0, 1.50) will face right-hander Ryan Vogelsong on Sunday (1:05 p.m.) Vogelsong came through his two rehab starts for Triple-A Fresno with no lower back problems and will be activated from the disabled list in time to make the start.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

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AP

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

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AP

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.