'Mentally tough' Zito blanks Braves


'Mentally tough' Zito blanks Braves

ATLANTA With two innings of satisfactory janitorial work,George Kontos and Clay Hensley held up quite a storyline for Barry Zito Tuesdaynight.

The Giants shut out the Atlanta Braves 9-0 at Turner Field just the clubs second shutout victory in the 16 years the locals have beenwaving Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and eating foam tomahawks here.

Zito contributed seven of those shutout innings on an easilybearable night in North Georgia. The other blanking here? It was in 2008 whenZito contributed seven shutout innings.

It was exactly what the Giants needed after getting carpetbombed on their previous road trip to Washington and Pittsburgh.

Hows this for another stat? Zito (8-6) has now pitchedat least seven innings without allowing a run in four of his 18 starts thisseason the most on the Giants staff. Matt Cain owns three such starts, RyanVogelsong and Tim Lincecum have two apiece and Madison Bumgarner has one.

And while it wasnt pretty, it should be noted that Zito startedin the only victory the Giants managed on their last woeful trip East.

Hes done a great job, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Hesgot eight wins. Its been a real pleasure to see how hes bounced back thisyear.

Hes tough mentally tough.

Thats what the manager said: Barry Zito, mentally tough.How many times over the last six years could Bochy say that?

Zito agreed with what Bochy told reporters prior toTuesdays game about the staffs unacceptable 4.85 ERA on the road, third worstin the majors. The left-hander and former Cy Young Award winner said he tookpride in being the one to start off a tough road trip.

Its not something weve addressed, but its definitelysomething were aware of, Zito said. We havent called a team meeting, but weknew on the road we had to bear down.

Its good to just be the guy. We all want to be out therewhen the team is scuffling. We all want to be the stopper.

Zito held a hot Braves lineup to three hits and a walk inseven innings.

Just throwing strikes, putting the pressure on them, beingaggressive same old things, he said. Those things work.

Zito even lined an RBI single after a foul ball nearlykilled both Gregor Blanco in the on-deck circle and Ryan Theriot on the topstep of the dugout. Both had to use Matrix-style moves to avoid the hot shot.

And Zito managed a catching change without any turbulence.After Hector Sanchez exited with a sprained left knee in the fourth inning,Zito worked with Buster Posey for the first time all season and didnt clashswords in the slightest.

Posey credited Zito with carrying his fastball through thezone.

He used his cutter in and out, and threw the curveball bothwhen behind in the count and ahead in the count, Posey said. He bounced itwhen he needed to bounce it. And he threw his changeup for strikes. He wasimpressive.

Zito was in less than impressive shape over the All-Starbreak. He took a commercial flight home, ate the cold chicken meal that wasoffered to him and came down with some kind of violent bacterial infection thatwreaked havoc with his GI tract for three days. So you could say he didntexactly enjoy the break.

It worked out good, Zito said. I had four or five days tobe sick.

And then provide seven innings of medicine the Giantspitching staff badly needed.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


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.