Giants

Giants spring training Day 34: Moore working hard to improve hitting

Giants spring training Day 34: Moore working hard to improve hitting

PEORIA, Ariz. — While discussing his first full season in the National League, Matt Moore brought up an NL West game the Giants would rather forget. 

“It is exciting to think about being able to do, like, what (Clayton) Kershaw did on opening day a few years ago,” Moore said. “He hit a solo home run and threw a nine-inning shutout. It’s like, ‘Wow, you literally had very little help that day.’”

The Giants know that well. They were on the other side on April 1, 2013, when Kershaw spun a four-hitter and scored the game’s first run with a leadoff homer in the eighth. Kershaw and the league’s other preeminent left-hander, Madison Bumgarner, have set the bar high as two-way players. Kershaw has 70 hits over the past six seasons. Bumgarner, who is practically another slugger out there, has 76, including 14 homers. 

Moore knows he won’t ever reach those heights. But he likes hitting, and he’s working hard this spring to make himself a serviceable option. 

“I know I’m not very good at it, but I do enjoy just the whole game,” he said. “I think there’s a strategy to what you have to do.”

Giants pitchers regularly compete with each other during batting practice, and that carries over into games. Moore got into the act before games last season, peppering Triples Alley, but he had just one hit in 24 at-bats after an August 1 trade. He’s 3-for-38 in the big leagues, but at 27 years old, he’s not far removed from being a two-way contributor. Moore followed Kyle Blanks as the first baseman at Moriarty High in New Mexico and he was set to play first and pitch in college. Instead he was drafted and signed by the Rays, but a decade later, he’s ready for a crack at National League ball. 

“I’ll be honest with you: If I was betting, I’d probably rather have another hitter up there, but I do like the opportunity and the style of baseball in the National League,” he said. “I like to play. I’m not saying I could play the everyday stuff, but just being in the box makes you feel like, ‘Alright, I’m playing baseball again.’ The perspective of seeing the ball at the knees gives you a little more confidence.”

Moore will get to hit in his next start, which comes Thursday at Scottsdale Stadium. At the Mariners’ home park on Saturday, he showed that there’s little work to be done on the mound before opening day. In five innings, Moore allowed just two hits and struck out four. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced. 

“He was on today,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s hitting his spots, good stuff, everything. I’m really, really happy with where he’s at right now.”

STOCK WATCH: Jarrett Parker is simply a different guy this spring. In each of his first two at-bats, he took good two-strike pitches to keep the battle going. One of those led to a monster homer to dead center, his fourth of the spring. Parker came in as the favorite to start the season in left field and he’s done nothing to lose his grip. 

Chris Marrero also went deep, giving him five homers for the spring. With Michael Morse swinging a hot bat it’s hard to see how Marrero fits in, but he certainly has opened eyes over the past month. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Gordon Beckham took some fly balls in left field on Friday, but Saturday was all about showing off at his natural position. Beckham went a long way to snag a pop-up for Moore and he later made a leaping grab of a shot up the middle.

Slade Heathcott might have made the play of the spring when he went into the right field corner for a sliding grab. Heathcott was up from minor league camp. 

STREAKING: Tim Federowicz has a double in five straight games, but no other hits during that span. Six of his last seven hits have been doubles. Now you know. 

“I like him,” Bochy said. “He’s made some noise in this camp.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: A day after making his spring debut, Will Smith said all felt right in his left arm. Smith threw all his pitches in an inning Friday, and he’ll play catch for a couple of days before getting back into games on Monday and Wednesday. 

“No setbacks so far,” he said. “I’m still looking to be ready for opening day.”

Cory Gearrin (cracked nail) will throw a bullpen session Sunday. 

FAMILIAR FACE: When the non-playing Mariners crossed the field to head off to the golf course or wherever, Chris Heston stopped by the dugout to hug Bochy and see some former teammates. Mariners people say Heston won’t make the team, but he’ll be one of the top options for a call-up should the team need a starter.

 

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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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

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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.