Giants

Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Johnny Cueto eased his way into big league camp last spring as he tried to recover from a long 2015 postseason with the Kansas City Royals. In Year 2 with the Giants, Cueto will again be delayed in letting loose on the mound. 

Cueto won't report until later in the week, the Giants said, as he stayed back in the Dominican Republic to tend to his ailing father. The Giants expect Cueto to miss the first two or three days of workouts. 

The rest of what should be a very strong rotation arrived in the clubhouse Monday, the day pitchers and catchers reported. Matt Cain and Jeff Samardzija live in the area and Matt Moore had a short trip after his first FanFest. But Madison Bumgarner was seen for the first time since Game 4 of the NLDS, and he made his rounds, offering bear hugs to longtime teammates. Bumgarner, who is back to the huge-beard look, said he had a "quiet offseason." 

He watched most of the postseason on TV, noting with a smile that, "I sure would have liked to have been there." He liked what he saw in December, when the Giants signed Mark Melancon. "He's the complete package when it comes to a closer," Bumgarner said. There was a rumor that Bumgarner would participate in the World Baseball Classic, but Bumgarner said the timing wasn't right. It is something he would like to do, however. 

As for the big Bumgarner story, he said there have been no recent contract discussions. The Giants have Bumgarner under team control through 2019, and while both sides would like to hammer out a big extension at some point, it's unlikely it happens this spring. 

STOCK RISING: Today is like the first day of school, as players, team employees and beat writers do a whole lot of hand-shaking and ask over and over again, "How was the offseason?" One thing that did stand out in my informal discussions with guys was how many mentioned how much they like Nick Hundley, the new backup catcher. He apparently made quite the impression on teammates and team employees at FanFest.

STOCK FALLING: The idea to expand the footprint of Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants had briefly considered purchasing an open lot behind the bullpens and building some sort of addition to the facility, but it ultimately didn't make sense. The lot is now being turned into condos. 

ICYMI: The main story on Day 1: Cain is ready to fight for his rotation spot.

FAMILIAR FACE: The Giants will see plenty of Gregor Blanco this season, starting in the spring. The Diamondbacks work out about 10 minutes away in North Scottsdale. Cain said it'll be weird facing the guy who saved his perfect game. 

"I might have to hit him a few times," he cracked. "He was fun to have around. He was such a bridge from the American guys to the Latin guys."

It'll be interesting to see who takes that role. Blanco was fluent in English and made himself a big part of things like the clubhouse's fantasy football league, but he also was a mentor for the younger players who were still learning the language. Santiago Casilla was, too. 

QUOTABLE: "Which way is the field?" -- One of the many veterans in Giants camp for the first time. Melancon and Hundley were the only free agent additions to the 40-man roster, but there are still a ton of new faces around when you add up the veteran non-roster invitees, prospects, and players who were acquired in the middle of last season. 

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.