Giants

Jimmy Rollins praises Giants fans for incredible energy at AT&T Park

Jimmy Rollins praises Giants fans for incredible energy at AT&T Park

In 1996, Jimmy Rollins graduated from Encinal High School in Alameda.

On Thursday morning, the Bay Area native opened up about actively rooting against the Orange and Black as a kid, and discussed his mindset entering 2017.

"I have to be honest, growing up in the East Bay, I couldn't stand the Giants," Rollins said on KNBR 1050. "I was happy about the '89 World Series and all that. But as I got introduced to National League baseball maybe about my sophomore or junior year ... I was like, you know what, going over to Candlestick -- this side is not bad. It's not like anything I thought it was.

"And I started really following the Giants. Obviously Matt Williams, Will the Thrill, Royce Clayton, (Robby) Thompson, Bonds obviously -- just the guys they had over there, I'm like 'This is a real good team.' I was just biased on that East Bay-West Bay bias.

"And then being in the National League, I really fell in love with playing at Giants stadium. The energy and all the things. After 2010, I couldn't stand anything about San Francisco stadium (laughter), but I still enjoyed going there just because the energy they bring ... there's just an excitement and a buzz when you go to that ballpark. It is never quiet, there's always noise going on and as an athlete you thrive on that -- it helps you perform better."

[RELATED: Mike Krukow expects Jimmy Rollins to make Giants' Opening Day roster]

Over 50 career games at AT&T Park, Rollins is hitting just .205 with four home runs and 19 RBI.

Against the Giants in the 2010 NLCS, he batted .261 with four RBI.

Rollins chose the White Sox over the Giants last year, but he signed a minor-league deal with San Francisco earlier this week.

What was the conversation like between him and Giants GM Bobby Evans?

"I haven't actually spoke with him yet, but I take it off of last year," Rollins explained. "We were in talks last year and I signed with Chicago just for the opportunity. But it was the same situation. I spoke with Bobby and Boch (Bruce Bochy), and like they said then and I'm gonna assume it's the same way -- they have their young guys and they're gonna play ... you're gonna give some days off and play here and there, and if somebody goes down, then maybe I can be the guy that steps up.

"So I'm just assuming it's the same exact role. But when I do speak with Boch or Bobby, whether that happens over the phone or when I get to spring training, the first thing is I'm just walking in the office and just asking what do I need to show them to convince them I'm worthy of being on the team. It's that simple.

"Whatever it is at this point, I'm willing to do. Last year, I wasn't at that point yet ... for me it's about winning and how can I help."
 

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

gillaspie-moncrief-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

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

righetti-dugout-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

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.