Giants sign veteran catcher Nick Hundley

Giants sign veteran catcher Nick Hundley

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants announced a one-year deal with catcher Nick Hundley on Tuesday, giving them a veteran backup behind Buster Posey. 

Hundley received a Major League deal worth about $2 million, putting him in pole position in the battle to be the second catcher. The 33-year-old has spent nine seasons in the big leagues, the majority of them with the Padres. He hit .260 with 10 homers last season with the Rockies. 

“His experience overall brings added value to our club,” general manager Bobby Evans said, noting that Hundley is very familiar with the NL West. “The attractive elements of his game and experience bring needed depth for us.” 

Hundley getting a Major League deal means he’s almost certainly ticketed for an opening day job, ousting incumbent Trevor Brown, who spent all of 2016 in the big leagues. Brown hit .237 with five homers in his first full big league season, but the Giants had quietly been looking for a more experienced option who could allow Brown — 25 years old and still relatively new to catching — to get additional seasoning in Triple-A. 

The Giants have not fully ruled out carrying three catchers. Brown, who was drafted as an infielder, occasionally takes ground balls at second and third, and there has been some discussion about a more varied role. 

“It is with some mixed feelings about how much to move him around off catching because catching is a very complex and difficult challenge,” Evans said. “When you move him around you don’t want to take away from what he’s doing behind the plate and at the same time you don’t want him to get hurt at another position. But (manager Bruce Bochy) and I have discussed the fact that we’ll look at him more at different positions this spring than we have in the past because we appreciate the value that he brings.”

The Giants have spent all offseason looking to add a third catcher to the mix, and if Brown is in Triple-A, they will have a third catcher on the 40-man roster who can be optioned back and forth. There will be veterans in camp on non-roster deals, including Tim Federowicz, but opt-out clauses may leave the depth chart short when the regular season arrives. 

In Hundley, the Giants have an option who should provide a little pop off the bench and lessen the drop off when Posey gets a day off. Evans said this move does not indicate that Posey will get additional rest or time at first base in 2017. He caught a career-high 122 games in 2016, winning his first Gold Glove Award. 

“The more we can keep Buster behind the plate and healthy, the stronger our team is,” Evans said. “The ideal is to keep him back there as much as possible and 120 (games) is a very fair target.”

Hundley, a native of the Northwest, is the second player signed to a big league deal this offseason, joining new closer Mark Melancon. The Giants do not expect to make another move of significance. To clear a 40-man roster spot, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment. If the Giants can’t line up a minor trade, Adrianza will return to the organization.

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.”