Giants

Matt Duffy finally gets back on a field, has 'come to peace' with injury

matt-duffy-rays-practicefield-ap.jpg
AP

Matt Duffy finally gets back on a field, has 'come to peace' with injury

The 2017 season has been a complete loss for Matt Duffy. And to a certain degree, he's come to terms with it.

In the offseason, he had surgery on his heel. After just three rehab games in May, he underwent another procedure to remove a calcium deposit.

On Monday, Duffy finally got back on a baseball field. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Duffy played three innings in a Rays Instructional League game, grounding out twice and having a ball graze his jersey for a hit-by-pitch.

"I'm happy with where I'm at. For the first game it feels pretty good. I didn't push it. I didn't try to do too much," Duffy told the publication afterwards.

Traded last July in a deal that netted the Giants young, controllable left-handed pitcher Matt Moore, Duffy never expected to be out this long.

"I was told three to six months. It is what it is. I don't think about that too much anymore. It's just wasted energy, frustrating myself. It costs me the year, it stinks, but I'm not going to get it back," Duffy said.

The 26-year-old is keeping a positive outlook.

"I could try to take a positive and say, 'Hey, I'm gaining one year on the back end, less wear and tear at this point.' I have come to peace with the fact it's taken me the whole year, unfortunately," Duffy said.

With the season wrapping up, Duffy talked about his thought-process heading into the winter and the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I can see it, for sure, especially with the offseason coming up. Get in a few games here, be able to strengthen in the offseason, continue to rehabilitate it, have a semi-normal offseason, have a good spring training. I'm excited about that," Duffy said.

When Duffy does get back into a major league game, it will be his first since Sept. 5, 2016.

Giants hero Travis Ishikawa joins overhaul of minor league coaching staffs

ishi-us.jpg
USATSI

Giants hero Travis Ishikawa joins overhaul of minor league coaching staffs

ORLANDO — At the winter meetings this week, David Bell spoke of what an impact his one year in San Francisco had on his playing career and life. The Giants are hoping their new Vice President of Player Personnel has a similarly long-lasting impact on their minor league system. 

Bell, hired earlier this offseason, has led a reboot of the minor league staffs and protocols, and on Friday the Giants announced some of the results. 

Several familiar names returned to join minor league coaching staffs, most notably Travis Ishikawa, the 2014 postseason hero who will now serve as hitting coach for an Arizona Rookie League team. On a larger scale, the Giants have added a fourth coach at every level, a second rookie team, changed their medical staff for the minor leagues, upgraded their facility in the Dominican Republic and put more of an emphasis on analytics and modern ways to take care of players. 

“We’re basically completing a pretty significant rebuild of our system,” general manager Bobby Evans said earlier this week. 

Bell, the former bench coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, was put in charge. Evans said the focus was on giving players the best possible chance to succeed, noting that they now enter professional ball in an age when many prospects have their own mental coaches and come from college programs with state of the art facilities. The Giants built a dynasty on player development, but they have fallen behind in recent years and failed to adequately restock the big league club. This will take time, team officials admit, but they feel the results will be there. 

“This is about our farm system in 2020 and beyond,” Evans said. “I really want to see David set up an environment and culture in our minor league system that is consistent with who we are as an organization and who David is as a baseball man.”

In addition to Bell, former Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter joins the organization as assistant director of player development in charge of offense. Matt Buschmann, a former Diamondbacks pitcher, has the same role and is in charge of “run prevention.” After two years as Angels hitting coach, Dave Hansen will be the minor league hitting coordinator. Julio Rangel, a former Indians pitching coordinator, will have the same role for the Giants. Some already in the organization were given new roles, including Double-A manager Kyle Haines (now assistant director of player development, instruction) and Geoff Head, who will leave his clubhouse position to oversee the medical system in the minor leagues. 

Here are the new full-season coaching staffs:

Triple-A Sacramento: Dave Brundage (manager), Steve Kline (pitching), Damon Minor (hitting), Nestor Rojas (fundamentals), David Getsoff (trainer), Andy King (strength and conditioning), Travis Higgs (bullpen catcher).

Double-A Richmond: Willie Harris (manager), Glenn Dishman (pitching), Francisco Morales (hitting), Hiro Sato (trainer), Jon Medici (strength and conditioning), Eliezer Zambrano (bullpen catcher).

High-A San Jose: Lipso Nava (manager), Matt Yourkin (pitching), Wilfredo Romero (hitting), Gary Davenport (fundamentals), Ryo Watanabe (trainer), Mark Spadavecchia (strength and conditioning), CJ Picerni (bullpen catcher). 

Low-A Augusta: Jolbert Cabrera (manager), Clayton Rapada (pitching), Thomas Neal (hitting), Ydwin Villegas (fundamentals), Vito Maffei (trainer), Jesse White (strength and conditioning), Michael Johnson (bullpen catcher). 

Giants Notes: What went on during the Ohtani meeting?

ohtani-angels-people.jpg
AP

Giants Notes: What went on during the Ohtani meeting?

ORLANDO — Even three seasons removed from their last title, the Giants have found that there are still surprising benefits to being in the World Series during those even years. When they met with Shohei Ohtani in Los Angeles earlier this month, Ohtani remarked that he was already familiar with the organization and key personnel because he had seen so much of Bruce Bochy and Buster Posey on TV. 

That familiarity didn’t bring Ohtani to San Francisco, of course. He chose the Angels, but the Giants were one of seven teams to be granted a meeting with the potential two-way star. They were taken up a private elevator to a large conference room, where they shook hands with Ohtani and his representatives and started their pitch. What exactly was that process like?

“We sat across the table from him and presented really who we are as an organization, and it was an opportunity for Boch to describe the role he would play with the Giants,” general manager Bobby Evans said this week. “Buster was able to answer a question or two about how (he) prepares our pitchers for games, but Buster asked his share of questions as well. With a translator, we all were able to interact in terms of a perspective on what it would be like to be a Giant in the clubhouse and on the field and get a snapshot of the city of San Francisco in some way.

“I thought (Ohtani) was incredibly impressive, very intuitive and alert, and very concerned about how the fit looked and would work. My understanding is that we were very close to that finish line, but I’m sure at some level not having a DH hurt.”

That became apparent to the Giants during the meeting. Ohtani told them at some point that he was not all that familiar with outfield play and he seemed to be gravitating toward a designated hitter role, so some in the traveling party left the meeting knowing that he would choose from the Angels, Mariners and Rangers. 

As for the other December meetings, the Giants left Orlando without a major addition, but there are indications that next week may be a busy one. For now, here are some leftover whispers and notes from five days at the Swan and Dolphin Resort … 

--- The front office has waffled a bit on the earlier desire to go defense-first in the outfield. Team officials said they might have to compromise defensively to add a power bat. Jay Bruce seems to be at the top of the list right now, although he is seeking a substantial deal and the Giants are watching their budget. They also have checked on Chicago's Avisail Garcia. 

--- Winter ball was a disaster for Giants prospects. Jarrett Parker (eye infection) and Christian Arroyo (wrist) came home early and Ryder Jones was sent home early after he got off to a very slow start. Austin Slater never even went to play in the Dominican Republic because he was still rehabbing. Chris Shaw’s Fall League experience was cut short by shoulder tightness. 

“Those are lost at-bats you never get back,” Evans said of the injuries. 

--- It sure sounds like the Giants would like to hold off quite a bit longer on promoting Shaw, allowing him to spend much of the year in Triple-A before becoming a big part of 2019 and beyond. Shaw can force the issue, though. “We look at his bat as being so close to being ready to take major league at-bats,” Evans said. “He’s still relatively new professionally to playing the outfield. We’d like to get him more and more reps.” It doesn’t sound like Shaw will return to first base anytime soon. 

--- Slater will get a look at all three outfield spots in spring training and the Giants believe he can handle all three. For now, they view him as a candidate to be the fourth or fifth outfielder on opening day. 

--- The Giants hope to bring Nick Hundley back soon, and that seems like a lock. As for another familiar backup catcher name, Trevor Brown will be back in Triple-A after getting outrighted off the 40-man roster in September. Brown dealt with a groin injury throughout the 2017 season but he’s fully healthy and will be in big league camp. 

--- Phil Nevin is the new third base coach for the Yankees and apparently will run spring training, so he's certainly going to be a hot managing candidate next offseason if the Yankees are as good as expected. Turns out Nevin was the one on hold as Hensley Meulens waited for the Yankees to make a decision. If Meulens had beaten out Aaron Boone, Nevin would have returned to San Francisco to take the open spot on staff.

--- Meulens will do most of the daily planning for Giants camp. Ron Wotus always handled that job when he was bench coach. Giants people were thrilled to have Meulens back, but they do believe he's such a high-profile candidate now that they may lose him in a year.

--- The early reports on pitching coach Curt Young are glowing. Young lives in the Phoenix area and he's already working with Giants pitchers who throw down there. Matt Moore, trying to move past a horrible season, is one of the players who went down early.

--- The Giants have heard that Pablo Sandoval's offseason conditioning is going just fine, but they'll check in again soon. This is the time of year when members of the training staff visit players in their home towns. Bochy said that if the season started today, Sandoval would be the third baseman -- but that's pretty much by default. The Giants want him in a bench role, with Evans saying Sandoval could have a Joaquin Arias-type role. 

--- You can replay that whole Evans Facebook Live here. He was pretty forthcoming on several topics, including the Stanton discussions, saying Joe Panik hasn't been discussed in any deals. There’s also a Facebook Live video with Bochy there.

--- The latest podcast includes conversations with David Bell, who is overhauling the minor league system, and Craig Mish, who was all over the Stanton discussions. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. 

--- Finally, a lighter note: Did Madison Bumgarner send angry texts to Bochy after hearing that he would give Ohtani 300-400 at-bats. The answer is here.