Posey, Sanchez return; Giants beat Reds 6-3


Posey, Sanchez return; Giants beat Reds 6-3

SCOTTSDALE Matt Cain walked in from the bullpen and heard the roar of the San Francisco Giants fans at Scottsdale Stadium."I thought everybody really loved me," Cain said, "and then I looked behind me and saw Buster."The return of Buster Posey was the story of the day for the Giants in Friday's 6-3 Cactus League victory over a Reds split-squad, with Freddy Sanchez's return a close second.Posey and Sanchez, both key cogs in the Giants' championship run in 2010, missed most of 2011 with injuries. Posey tore ligaments in his left ankle in a home-plate collision on May 25, and Sanchez dislocated his shoulder June 10. Neither had played in a game until Friday.Posey caught two innings and hit a flyout in his only trip to the plate, while Sanchez was 1 for 4."It was fun," Posey said. "I've put in a lot of work. Even though it was only two innings, it was nice to be out there."RELATED: Posey takes first at bat since injury, flies out
Posey admitted to some anxiety before the game, but he felt better after passing the few tests the game provided. He had to drop to his knees to block a few balls, which he did flawlessly. He had to pop out of his crouch to throw to second on Miguel Cairo's steal attempt. Cairo was safe, but Posey said he was satisfied with the throw."It was good to see Buster back out there playing again," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I know he was excited. It was great to see the ovation he got when he walked out to the bullpen. There was a little extra energy in the crowd and in the dugout today than you normally feel in a spring training game. It was fun. Everyone was happy to see Buster playing again."Bochy said Posey will catch again on Sunday, playing four innings.As for Sanchez, the Giants were happy to get him back into the lineup, but the true test of his surgically repaired shoulder will come when he is ready to play in the field. Bochy said the plan is for Sanchez to DH again on Sunday and play second base on Monday."Playing defense will be a big steppingstone for me," Sanchez said. "I feel like I'm getting a little stronger each day."RELATED: Quiet, healthy debut for Sanchez
Cain picked up the victory with three scoreless innings, striking out four. He has not allowed a run in five innings in his two starts this spring.Reds starter Aroldis Chapman pitched two perfect innings, striking out two. The Reds are looking to see if the 24-year-old Cuban can pitch in the rotation instead of the bullpen, where he spent his first two major league seasons.Chapman is in the running for the No. 5 starter job with Homer Bailey.However, manager Dusty Baker told reporters this week that an injury to reliever Bill Bray could prompt the Reds to scrap plans to put Chapman in the rotation.Notes: New Giants OF Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer, his third of the spring. ... Brandon Belt also homered for the Giants. ... Todd Frazier hit his second homer of the spring for the Reds. ... Ryan Ludwick, who had one single in his first eight at-bats, doubled. ... The Reds were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

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.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


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.