Giants

The horse rides off: Matt Cain to retire at end of 2017 season

The horse rides off: Matt Cain to retire at end of 2017 season

Programming note: Watch the encore presentation of Matt Cain's perfect game from 2012 -- This Saturday, Sept. 30 immediately following Warriors basketball  at 8 p.m. and Sunday morning Oct. 1, at 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. 

PHOENIX -- The Giants have spent weeks working on a plan to have Matt Cain make one final start for them this weekend. Cain announced Wednesday that Saturday's appearance will actually be the last one of his big league career. 

Before the final road game of his 13th big league season, Cain held a closed-doors meeting to tell his teammates that he will retire. He announced his intentions to the media a few minutes later.

"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," Cain said. "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."

Cain, who turns 33 on Sunday, will be the fourth player in franchise history to play their entire career with the Giants and play at least 10 seasons. He joins Jim Davenport, Scott Garrelts and Robby Thompson. Cain said playing only for the Giants was a big factor in his decision. 

"I feel like that's what makes this a little easier," he said. "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 was the first round pick for the Giants in 2002 and made his MLB debut in 2005. The longest-tenured Giant has 104 career wins and a 3.69 ERA. He will finish with 331 regular season starts with the Giants, second in their San Francisco history. Juan Marichal started 446 games for the San Francisco Giants. 

Cain threw the only perfect game in franchise history in June of 2012 and saved his best for the biggest moments. In eight postseason starts, Cain had a 2.10 ERA. He pitched the clinching game in all three series during the 2012 title run. 

Cain made three All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young Award voting twice before arm injuries slowed his career. He has dealt with several ailments since winning the second of three titles, but throughout, Cain has been one of the most respected players in the clubhouse and a sounding board for waves of young pitchers. 

Cain said he made the decision over the past week and told Bobby Evans, Bochy, Dave Righetti and some longtime teammates on Tuesday. When he announced on Tuesday that Cain would make one more start, Bochy said it would be a special day for the entire organization. 

"With what he's done for the Giants organization, he's been here since day one with me, and I wanted him to make this start at home," Bochy said. "I'm sure it's going to be emotional for him. It's important for us and for Matt to have a start there the last homestand. Matt has been great through all of this and he has provided leadership. This is going to be a special game for him and for us."

The moment will mark the end of an era in franchise history. Cain saw it all, and he said that's what he'll remember most about his time in orange and black. Asked for his greatest moment, he pointed to the growth of the organization. 

"Hey, you know what, we had some amazing seasons and won it all," he said. "Not many people get to see the bottom of the barrel and the top of the barrel. That's really special to me."

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.