Giants

Posey: 'There's still some work to do but I was very happy'

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Posey: 'There's still some work to do but I was very happy'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buster Posey caught Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in the bullpen area. He did some blocking drills. He practiced hopping out of his crouch to throw. Then he belted a few batting-practice cookies onto the grass beyond the left field fence.It was an absolutely normal morning for a catcher on the first workout day of the spring. None of it would be remarkable if not for one terrible collision the night of May 25, and the months of rehab that followed.No, there was no discernable change in Poseys actions or swing under the Arizona sky on Sunday. The difference will be more evident Monday, when Posey wont go through the same full routine. The Giants want him to rest his rebuilt leg and ankle.

How does Posey feel about the abundance of caution? Was there ever a time that he considered just quitting as a catcher for a safer place on the field? (Yes, actually.) Has he talked to Scott Cousins, the Florida Marlins rookie who ran him over? (Nope.) Could he beat Pat Burrell in a race? (Duh.)Posey answered that and more when he met with a large media contingent, including most of the national outlets that cover baseball.The State of Buster follows:Q: Are you keeping the two-piece mask?
A: I'm just going to play with it all spring, see how I like it. If I do I'll keep it. If not I know I'm comfortable with the hockey style.Q: You did everything in your workout today. How did it compare to what youve been doing on your own?
A: I'd say it's pretty comparable. Obviously it's a little bit different, the intensity's a little bit higher, there's a little bit of adrenaline being out here with the rest of the guys, it being the first day. I was really happy with the way everything felt.Q: Tim Lincecum says he can see that youre ready.
A: Yeah, I think sometime probably in January I kind of just got past a certain point where I felt ready. I was glad to have that feeling. I think it took my ankle getting to a certain point and feeling good to be ready to get back out and do this stuff.Q: Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy say they'll keep you in check with some things ... understandable?
A: Absolutely. The overall goal is to be ready opening day and then from there be back behind the plate as much as I can. I understand and I think we're all on the same page with it. I've got to stay as productive as possible, whether that's taking a blow here or there or playing first (base) every once in a while, whatever that may be. The goal I think is still to catch as many games as I can.Q: Is it hard to take tomorrow off from catching bullpens?
A: No, I don't think so because they've laid out a plan for me. Everything we've done so far has gone great. I trust (Dave Groeschner) and the training staff. I'm going to stick with what they give me. We have plenty of time still. There's no point in trying to do it all in the first two days.Q: What will you do tomorrow?
A: I don't think I'm catching pens tomorrow. I'll do everything else.Q: Could you sense what this meant to the team having you back?
A: I don't know. I tried to keep it as normal as possible and treat it like the first day of camp. Everybody's excited regardless. It was special for me because I've put in a lot of work to get back to this point and this is just another step. There's still some work to do but I was very happy with today.Q: How does the ankle feel day-in and day-out?
A: It feels good, progressively better and better, and really, it's a little sore when I wake up but other than that after a few steps it feels normal.Q: In January you reached a point ... what was that all about?
A: I don't know. I don't think it was that I got past a certain pain threshhold. I don't know, it's tough to explain. I kind of felt that hunger to want to be back out more so, not that I didn't feel it before but I really started getting excited. I told my wife it was a good feeling to have because that's what you're always looking for as a player, you want to have that passion to be out there.Q: Will you be able to program yourself not to make the one play that could hurt you again?
A: It's tough to answer that question. When you're playing a game you're doing everything you can to make certain plays and I think that to answer that it comes down to the preparation you put in now, early work and what not. I'm hopeful it's something like before, you're trying to get the guy out. It's that simple.Q: Bruce said he talked about that to you, was he straightforward in telling you not to block the plate?
A: Yeah, I think that's what we're going to do. But I want to make it clear I wasn't blocking the plate to begin with. That's the dicey part I guess is figuring where you've got to be to somewhat avoid that. I have to be instinctual, that's the way I play the game. I try to play off instincts. Some of those instincts come off your preparation and that's why we're going to put in a lot of work this spring.Q: Do you hope for rules changes to protect catchers?
A: You know, I don't know. I'm going to leave that to those people who make those decisions on the rules and we'll see. I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine.Q: You seemed to stay out of the hard feelings part of this in aftermath of the collision, whether it be Scott Cousins or what Brian Sabean had to say. Is that just your personality or was it needed distance?
A: I think some of both. I think you're right on. The biggest thing for me back then and now is looking forward and being positive and trying to get ready for another season. Just keeping that positive outlook.Q: Do you accept the fact Cousins is truly sorry this happened?
A: Do I accept it? Sure. I do.Q: Have you talked?
A: No.Q: No need?
A: I don't think so. I mean it's one of those things. Usually I just hear it from you guys (in the media), but I heard he called over the night it happened but I was probably getting X-rays and from then other than hearing you guys say he's tried to make contact, I don't know.Q: Is there something youve learned about yourself since that day?
A: I think it's just a greater appreciation for doing what I do, just enjoying this, being out here today catching a couple of pens and maybe some of the not-so-glamorous stuff of a catcher's job - enjoying that stuff a little bit more and just knowing that it can be gone quick and enjoying every bit of it.Q: Was there a moment or two today when you said, "This is really cool?
A: Not really. It's all of it. Just enjoying every bit of it.Q: Did you notice the fan reaction today after your first BP round?
A: Yeah. That was pretty cool. The fans are great. They've been great throughout the whole process.Q: You caught Lincecum twice last week; how did he look to you today?
A: Good. It was coming out nice and easy. He just threw fastball-changeup but everything looked free and easy.Q: How does your swing feel now?
A: It feels good. I've been hitting here in Arizona in October, then took a little time off and started hitting again back home right at the first of the year.Q: Even if you don't play a lot during the first week of exhibitions, which Bochy has said, is it important for you to play in that first game March 3?
A: That's something I kind of mentioned to them, just because from sitting out so much, I want to get back in there. I don't want to sit in that first one. So that's something we're going to play by ear. If it is something I can do, I'll be fired up about that. But, if not, it's not the end of the world either.Q: Long term, are you fine about playing first base?
A: The way I see it is I'm not going to lie. There were some thoughts a couple of months after, well, maybe it wouldn't be bad to move. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how much I enjoy catching. As hard as I'm going to work and have worked and am going to continue to work to get back behind the plate, I want to catch for as long as I possibly can.Q: How would you describe the pull of catching?
A: It's hard to explain, but there's a lot. Working with our staff is great, from all the starters all the way through the relievers to the closer. Just the preparation. I think, for me, I like the little adjustments throughout the game where you attack a hitter one way one time and you have to change it up the second, third, fourth time through. Just the little stuff, I think.Q: Is there any position where you wouldn't feel comfortable?
A: Yeah -- center field, left field, right fieldQ: You haven't played any outfield?
A: No. I'm too slow. Well, Burrell played out there, soQ: Has taking care of your twins become part of exercise regimen?
A: Yes. You have to use your legs when you pick them up.Q: Did snapping out of a catcher's crouch feel natural?
A: Yeah. I did a little bit of that today in our drills and it felt great.Q: All things considered, do you feel "normal"?
A: Yeah. I think so. I feel good.Q: Have you watched the replay of collision much, or do you try to avoid it?
A: No, I watched it. I haven't had a problem watching it. I told somebody the other day, (Arizona shortstop) Stephen Drew got hurt and he basically did the same thing (to his ankle). It made my stomach turn watching him but I can watch mine and it doesn't bother me. I don't know why. Just going through it, I kind of know what it felt like, I guess.Q: You had some pop in your bat today.
A: Thank you! ... Even back in Arizona I felt pretty good after not hitting for four or five months. I guess I'm just blessed, in a sense, that I enjoy this game.Q: You own Ron Wotus.
A: Four-seamer, coming at 55, I tend to square that one up.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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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

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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.