Giants

Giants Year in Review: 'Disappointing' is probably not strong enough

Giants Year in Review: 'Disappointing' is probably not strong enough

SAN FRANCISCO — This is my sixth year using quotes to drive a “year in review" piece. The other years, even the previous odd years, tended to be mostly humorous and light. 

This year was dark. So very, very dark. 

There were highlights, of course, the occasional funny moment or walk-off or retirement ceremony. But the truth is, the vibe in the clubhouse very much mirrored the vibe on the field. When you’re a $200 million roster flirting with 100 losses, it’s hard to have too much fun, and the Giants certainly never appeared to be doing so. 

Will it be better next year? We’ll see. For now, strap in, maybe mix a strong drink, and take a trip back through memory lane in the words of players and coaches...

“For us in the dugout, we’re just kind of shaking our heads. It’s not supposed to be that easy. He kind of makes it look easy, but there’s a method to his madness. See what I did there? Mad-ness. He works at it. He takes it seriously.” Buster Posey, after Madison Bumgarner hit two homers on Opening Day. 

“I just laughed. You expect him to get one every once in a while. You don’t expect him to get two the first day. There’s not much you can say. I just laughed. It’s pretty cool to watch a pitcher do that.”Brandon Belt, on Opening Day. 

“That’s okay. I play tomorrow.”Bumgarner, before his second start, after Belt pointed out that he led the Majors with three homers. 

“Goodness. He looks really young.”Posey to Matt Cain, as Christian Arroyo took his first at-bat. 

“She didn’t believe me. It took a solid five minutes for her to believe me. She kept going, ‘You’re lying.’”Arroyo, recalling how he told his mom he got the call to the big leagues. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down. I tried to slow down and take it all in.”Arroyo, on his first homer. 

“I’m cutting down on my swing.”Bumgarner, after coming up 15 feet short of hitting the scoreboard at Petco Park. 

“It looked like a gunslinger, like Josey Wales coming out of a bar. I was two-thirds of the way down the dugout rail and these two (Royals fans) kept yelling ‘Give us Bumgarner! Give us Bumgarner! As soon as we went ahead and we knew he was coming out, these guys were yelling it again: ‘Give us Bumgarner!’ I turned around and yelled, ‘You’re getting him now mother——————!’”Tim Flannery, recalling Bumgarner’s Game 7 performance before the lefty returned to Kansas City in April. 

"I was amazing. I had one Defensive Run Saved.”Belt, looking back fondly on his one day in left field in 2016. 

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat.”Bruce Bochy, after Hunter Pence swung at a series of pitches at eye-level before hitting a walk-off sac fly. 

“Off days are the freaking worst for all of us and have been for years, but we don't get many and when we do guys do things they might be missing out on.”Dave Righetti, after Bumgarner crashed a dirt bike outside Denver. 

“I was actually being pretty safe the whole time. It was just a freak deal. We were on the way out, almost back to the truck … I wish I had some kind of cool story that it was some kind of crazy wreck. It wasn’t anything spectacular. It’s terrible. It’s obviously not my intention when I set out to enjoy the off day. I realize it’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made. It sucks not being out here with the guys.”Bumgarner, after his injury. 

“I think they’re just having fun with me.”Bochy on May 10, after the Giants ended a streak of 133 straight losses when trailing after eight. They took the lead in the top of the ninth and then nearly blew it. 

“That’s dad-strength.”Posey, after hitting a 431-foot walk-off homer in the 17th inning. 

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds.” Bochy, shooting down the Mark Melancon “clubhouse chemistry” story. 

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching.”Melancon, channeling Allen Iverson after that story came out.

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog.’” Eduardo Nuñez to Mac Williamson after Williamson homered off Wade Davis and nearly ran Nuñez and his tight hamstring down on the bases. 

“Obviously I’ve left the ball over the plate a couple of times to him and he’s taken advantage of that. It was mostly to go inside and obviously I got it in a little bit too far. I didn’t expect that (fight) but it’s part of the game and that’s what he decided to do.”Hunter Strickland, after the fight with Bryce Harper. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore. They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens. You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him. You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.” Harper, after the fight. 

“It looks bad … You have two guys that probably don’t care for each other much.” Bochy, on Strickland. 

"Samardzija saw blood a little bit, I thought. I’m very thankful for Mikey Mo.”Harper, on Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse colliding. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up. We lost the game, that's what's most important.”Morse, saying he was fine after the fight. He wouldn’t play again. 

“He already shows power but yet he’s very young. He can run. As he matures into his body and continues to mature into his body, we feel we may have something special.” John Barr, after drafting Heliot Ramos. It appears he was right. 

“Can he take BP? Put him in the last group. I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow.”Bochy, after meeting Ramos. 

“I faced him last night and got a hit and a pop-up.”Ryder Jones, explaining that he prepared for his debut against Jacob deGrom by facing a digital version on PlayStation. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me. I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.” Denard Span, after walk-off in the 14th inning. Birds had circled him in center field for a couple hours. 

“I thought they were going to walk me. As soon as Span got to second base, I was like, fuuuuu …”Nuñez, after a walk-off hit. The winning run was already on third when Span stole second base in front of Nuñez. 

“I learned my lesson. I made a lot of mistakes.” Pablo Sandoval, on his original exit from San Francisco. 

"I didn't think he had it in him.”Bumgarner, after Blach hit a homer to dead center at AT&T Park. 

“Yeah, unless I get a season-ending injury or something.” Belt, when Hensley Meulens told him in early August that he would shatter his career high in homers. 

“He’s been through this before, so it’s obvious there are some concerns there.”Bochy, after Belt suffered a concussion on Aug. 4. He wouldn’t play again. 

“It does get under my skin after a while. In six starts, it’s been Jekyll and Hyde.” Matt Moore, after a bad start in early May. 

“You don’t deserve anything really that good after something like that. That’s piss poor.”Moore, after the Giants took a lead and then he walked the leadoff hitter on four pitches to start the next inning. The Giants lost. 

“I always pictured myself here.” Moore, after his option was picked up in late September. He was traded on Dec. 15. 

“That guy may have the best arm I’ve ever seen. That’s Bo Jackson arm stuff right there. That was that good. That was Bo good. I’ve always thought Shawon Dunston and Bo Jackson. Shawon Dunston on the infield, Bo Jackson on the outfield. And I think Moncrief is among that group. It’s incredible.”Joe Maddon, after Carlos Moncrief made a couple of incredible throws against the Cubs. 

"We'll give Stratton a shot to show what he can do.”Bochy, putting Chris Stratton in the rotation on August 3. He had a 2.42 ERA over his final nine starts. 

“All you can hope for is an opportunity and you go out there and make the most of it.”Stratton, after dominating the Nationals. 

“He’s made a really big statement, I think, if you look at his body of work. Just watching him pound the strike zone, he’s got two good breaking balls and a changeup. He’s locating well and he finished up on a good note tonight. It’s nice to have a young man like this come up and make some noise, where he wants to be in the rotation next year. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but he certainly did his part.”Bochy, after Stratton’s final start. 

“Yes, yes, 100 percent (on purpose) — because I’ve already been talking smack.”Posey, after he stole his fifth base and then watched Crawford steal a base a few minutes later. They go back and forth. 

“It wasn’t just a little inside. The same guy — I’ll say it, he’s an idiot.” Bochy, after Hector Neris drilled Posey. 

“I enjoy the human element of the game. I’m not an advocate for the stupid electronic strike zone. I don’t even like replay. I wish we could get back to the way we used to play. We won’t, but that’s just my opinion.” Bumgarner, on robot umps. 

“He’s a pleasure to have on the club. His energy, his enthusiasm, the talent. He brings a lot of experience into every game. It’s allowed me to rest Buster more and he’s a threat up there. It’s been fun to have him here.” Bochy on Nick Hundley, who signed a one-year deal in December. 

“Just F it. It’s late, I’m hitting third, I was like, ‘Is this a real game?’”Span, on his attitude before having a huge night in a game that started at 10:50 p.m. 

“I’ll say this, I was lucky and fortunate to have played with and managed Tony Gwynn. He had some great series, but I don’t recall him having a series like this ... Everything (Panik) hit, he hit on the barrel and found holes. When he didn’t, he hit it out (of the park) or hit a gapper. It was quite a display of hitting. It did remind me of Tony.” Bochy, after Joe Panik had 12 hits in three games at Coors Field. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back. This is the kind of ball we can play.” Bochy, after Bumgarner dominated the Dodgers on Sept. 23. 

"This weekend will definitely be my last time putting on a Giants uniform, and I can't see myself going anywhere else to play with another team. This organization has meant so much to me and so much to my family. It's something that's dear to my heart. I'm just grateful that it's been a part of my life. I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it so much. I feel like that's what makes this a little easier. I started in 2002 getting picked up by the Giants and I know that's the way I'm going to go out. I can't picture myself putting a different uniform on.”Cain, announcing his retirement. 

“He’s a special person and one of the better Giants to ever put on this uniform. He gave us the best he had every time … he’s had an unbelievable career, and I’m just happy to have been a part of it.”Bumgarner, on Cain. 

“Guys were crying in the dugout. That’s how much they care about the guy.”Bochy, after Cain’s final start. 

“I’m more than satisfied. I was kind of surprised to get that far into the game. I’m pretty proud of being able to go out there and throw five innings today, but that honestly was the excitement of the fans and my teammates pushing me along. That didn’t have anything to do with me. I was riding their wave.” Cain, after his final start. 

“He can manage if he wants. Honestly, I haven’t done too well.”Bochy, joking about what Cain would do for the final game of the season. 

“We were going to have a 1-4 stretch at some point. It just happened to happen early.” Belt, after the fifth game of the season. 

“It just, you know, looks bad when it happens (the first week). It’s really early. There are a lot of games left. There’s no reason to hit the panic button.”Bumgarner, after the sixth game. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either. It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.” Bochy, after the Giants got off to a 6-13 start. 

“We have everything we need in this room. Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”Samardzija, when asked in late April if Giants were panicking. 

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season. It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.” Pence, after Morse hit a big homer April 26. 

“We’ve got to get this offense going. It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.” Bochy, after the Giants scored eight runs in four games against the Dodgers. (Turns out it was not a better offense.)

“April showers bring May flowers.”Pence, after hitting a homer off Clayton Kershaw in a win on May 1.

“When you’re having some success that certainly helps your personality. We’re not getting giddy out there. We dug ourselves a hole (but) every day you’ve got to come out with your best game. You’ve got to believe the worm is going to turn and it has, but we’ve got our hands full the next couple of days.” Bochy, on May 15 with the Giants riding high after the 17-inning win. 

“Well … I mean, we’ll have to search.” Bochy, when asked if there were any positives to take from an awful series against the Nationals. 

“They’re men out there. They’re men. They know where they’re at. We’ve had meetings.” Bochy, after a loss in Philadelphia in early June. 

“You’ve got to flush it.”Blach, after a bad loss in the middle of June.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have. When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around.” Belt, when the Giants lost their 50th game on June 24. 

“You try to fix the hole in the dam and put your finger in it, and another one opens.”Bochy, at the end of the first half. 

“It’s incredible the support we’ve had. This season couldn’t have gone worse. I don’t think any of us could have seen it unraveling the way it has. It’s been a tough go and the one constant has been the support. We can’t thank (the fans) enough. We appreciate it. We’re disappointed we’re not in a better place for our fans.”Bochy, after the sellout streak ended in late July. 

“This is something new for pretty much everybody here.”Panik, at the end of July, discussing all the losing. 

“We’re not doing a lot.”Bochy, after the Giants scored 10 runs on a five-game trip in August. 

“I don’t really have words for it. Disappointing’ is probably not strong enough.”Posey, after the Giants took over the worst record in baseball on Sept. 5. 

“Right now he’s letting everybody know that this is unacceptable and this is not how the Giants play and this is not how this organization won three world championships, so let’s go.” Duane Kuiper, after cameras caught Eli Whiteside yelling at players in the dugout during loss No. 91. 

“We need to spend some time thinking about what it is specifically for us to help the Giants win more baseball games and get back to where we all want to be. We’re all confident and we know how much ability is in this clubhouse, but at the same time, we’ve got to execute on the field. All of us as players have to play better next year.” Posey, after the final game. 

“We have some work to do, there’s no sugar-coating this. You lose 98 games, you’ve got a lot of things to fix. Forget the injuries. You look at the numbers on both sides and we’ve got to get better, especially in our division. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll be relentless, all of us. We talked to the players. We know what’s ahead of us.”Bochy, after the final game.

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

PHOENIX — After his team was held to fewer than two runs for the 10th time this season, manager Bruce Bochy said Mac Williamson will be in Anaheim on Friday as part of the taxi squad. The Giants need the outfielder to be more of a tow truck. 

This is a lineup that has not gotten in gear in any way, but a red-hot reinforcement is on the way. Williamson was hitting .487 with six homers in 11 games in Triple-A, and while Bochy couldn’t say he’ll be active and in left field against the Angels, it was not hard to read between the lines. Hunter Pence said the thumb he sprained in the home opener continues to give him problems and needs a few days of rest. It seems likely that Williamson will officially be called up Friday, with Pence going on the disabled list. 

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Bochy said. “Mostly he’s coming up because he’s swinging the bat well. We’re hoping he’ll be a shot in the arm and provide some production, and we need some help in that area.”

The futility has the Giants six games out of first after just three weeks of action. The culprit is clear. Johnny Cueto, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach combined to give up three runs over 20 innings in a tough ballpark, but the Giants still dropped two of three. 

They need more than just one offensive fix, but Williamson represents a start. The 27-year-old has never stuck in the majors, but he rebuilt his swing in the offseason while working with Doug Latta, a private instructor in the Los Angeles area who helped Justin Turner became a star. Williamson’s swing has many of the same markers as Turner’s, and he had a huge spring as he continued to work on adjustments. Williamson lowered his hands and added a higher leg kick in hopes of keeping his bat in the zone longer and being shorter and more direct to the ball. 

“In the past I’ve been really active with my shoulders and hands late in the swing instead of just going and attacking the ball,” he said this spring. “I’m trying to just really calm down a lot of that non-essential movement.”

Williamson knew there was not a spot for him on the opening day roster, but hoped to make an impact sooner than later. His torrid start, plus the struggles at the big league level, have made this a daily question. 

“He showed this spring with the adjustments he made that he’s primed,” Bochy said. “He went out and did what we were hoping.”

The key for the Giants now will be to show more faith than they have in the past. Williamson is a .226 hitter in the big leagues, but his 212 at-bats have been scattered across three seasons and plenty of call-ups. It seems he is always one 0 for 3 night away from a demotion, but the Giants would be well served to let him work through any kinks this time. 

The incumbent in left field, Pence, is batting .172. His backups — Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco — are better fits as defense-first reserves. Pence hurt his thumb while diving in left field during the home opener and said it has never gotten better. An MRI back then showed a sprain. 

“It’s been going in a backwards direction,” he said. 

So have the Giants, but perhaps help is finally on the way.

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

bumgarnerinjuryopeningdayusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

PHOENIX -- The removal of three small pins in Madison Bumgarner's left pinky represented a big step for the pitcher. 

Bumgarner had the pins taken out Thursday and he now will begin the process of strengthening his hand, which was fractured during his final spring training appearance. He could begin playing catch in two weeks. 

"Once he gets that going, I think you'll see him make real progress," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

It still will be a long process for Bumgarner, who is on the 60-day DL and not eligible to return until May 26. It seems unlikely that he's ready on that day, but it could be soon thereafter. Bumgarner will need to play catch for a bit before starting bullpen sessions and eventually a real rehab assignment. Realistically, the Giants are hopeful that he'll be back in the rotation in early June. Bochy said he wouldn't be surprised if Bumgarner beats the initial timetable. 

"But it all depends on (how he feels) when he starts throwing," Bochy added. 

The Giants will get another key pitcher back Friday when Jeff Samardzija makes his season debut. 

--- Hunter Pence has a sore right thumb and wasn't in Thursday's lineup. The timing is, well, interesting. Mac Williamson wasn't in Triple-A Sacramento's lineup, so this could be the time a move is made, but the Giants also will need to clear a spot for Samardzija and they're hoping to stick with eight relievers for now. Stay tuned.