Giants

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

crawford79-ap.jpg
AP

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”

Giants win first series of 2018 season thanks to Cueto, Longoria and Belt

Giants win first series of 2018 season thanks to Cueto, Longoria and Belt

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt hung in for an epic 21-pitch at-bat before flying out, but later homered to lead Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 on Sunday.

Belt fouled off 11 straight pitches from rookie right-hander Jaime Barria in the first inning in the majors' longest at-bat since records began in 1988. The previous high of 20 pitches in a plate appearance since 1988 was when Houston's Ricky Gutierrez struck out against Cleveland's Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, according to Retrosheet.

In all, the left-handed Belt peppered the crowd with 16 foul balls his first time up. He hit two long fouls down the right-field line before lining out to right fielder Kole Calhoun, ending an at-bat the Giants said lasted 12 minutes, 45 seconds.

It took nine pitches for Belt to work the count full, as he fouled off five pitches in the process. He swung and missed just once, and was greeted with high-fives when he returned to the dugout.

Angels pitching coach Charles Nagy made a mound visit to check on Barria (1-1) after Belt batted. Barria had thrown nine pitches to Joe Panik, who hit a leadoff single, before throwing 21 to Belt.

Belt singled and scored in the third and launched a leadoff homer to right against Blake Parker in the fifth. Belt saw a total of 38 pitches in his first three at-bats, then hit the first pitch his last two times up.

Cueto (2-0) allowed only two hits in six shutout innings against cleanup batter Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. Cueto took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out seven.

Cueto twice fanned the lefty-hitting Ohtani by getting the Japanese two-way sensation to flail at change-ups. Cueto also struck out Mike Trout twice.

The Giants right-hander walked two, hit two batters and lowered his ERA in four starts to 0.35.

The Angels were scoreless until Trout hit a two-run homer in the eighth, his big league-leading ninth and his third in as many games. The opposite-field shot to right-center came off Cory Gearrin.

Los Angeles had runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth before Hunter Strickland got Ian Kinsler to fly out to center for his third save in five chances.

Kinsler led off the sixth with a single for the Angels' first hit. Ohtani singled with one out to load the bases, but Cueto got Luis Valbuena to ground into a 3-6-1 double play. Cueto excitedly pumped his right fist after taking the throw from shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Ohtani batted cleanup for the first time because Albert Pujols got his first day off this season. He finished 1 for 4.

Panik also had three hits apiece for the Giants, who took two of three for their first series win of the season.

Barria threw 49 pitches in the first inning. He loaded the bases on three singles with one out before retiring Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval.

Barria loaded the bases with no outs in the third before making way for Noe Ramirez. Joe Panik scored on Buster Posey's double-play ball and Evan Longoria followed with a two-run homer, his fourth.

Barria allowed two runs and six hits, struck out one and walked one. He got only six outs on 77 pitches.

OHTANI WATCH:
The 23-year-old threw a bullpen session some 90 minutes before first pitch and is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday at Houston. A blister on his right middle finger forced him out of his start after just two innings Tuesday night against Boston.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons suffered a bruised right forearm when he was hit by a pitch by Cueto in the second. He was replaced in the top of the third by Jefrey Marte.

UP NEXT:
Giants: RHP Chris Stratton (1-1, 2.22) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a home three-game series with Washington, which counters with LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49).

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (2-1, 3.98) looks to go 3-0 on the road this season when he opens series at Houston versus UCLA product Gerrit Cole (2-0, 0.96).

Brandon Belt sets modern MLB record with 21-pitch at-bat

Brandon Belt sets modern MLB record with 21-pitch at-bat

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants saw 21 pitches in an epic plate appearance against Los Angeles Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria in the first inning Sunday, the most since records began in 1988.

The previous high of 20 pitches in a plate appearance since 1988 was when Houston's Ricky Gutierrez struck out against Cleveland's Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, according to Retrosheet.

The left-handed Belt peppered the crowd with plenty of souvenirs by fouling off 11 straight pitches, including two long fouls down the right-field line, before lining out to right fielder Kole Calhoun.

Belt was greeted with high-fives when he returned to the dugout.

It took nine pitches for Belt to work the count full, as he fouled off five pitches in the process. He swung and missed just once.

Angels pitching coach Charles Nagy made a mound visit to check on Barria after the Belt at-bat. Barria had thrown nine pitches to Joe Panik, who hit a leadoff single, before throwing 21 to Belt.

Barria threw 49 pitches in the first inning. He loaded the bases with one out before retiring Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval.