Giants

Samardzija sends 'start fast' message to new-look Giants

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USATSI

Samardzija sends 'start fast' message to new-look Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point this month, Bruce Bochy will stand in front of his players in the home clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium and deliver a motto for the season. Jeff Samardzija already knows what it should be. 

“The words coming out of my mouth all spring will be ‘start fast,’” Samardzija said during an appearance on The Giants Insider Podcast. “You can’t win it in the first month but you want to be right there for a good summer run and then a late fall run, too.”

The Giants got a reminder of that reality last season. They were 10 games out of first by May 9, and before the weather ever got warm they had been buried by the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies. Some would look at last year’s NL West standings and see a problem for 2018. Samardzija watched three division rivals make the postseason and saw an opportunity. He remembers how hard the Giants had to grind physically and mentally to make it to the NLDS the year before. 

“We know we’ve got three playoff teams coming into the season in our division, but (those are) three teams that had long seasons, you know, and battled and left a lot out there,” he said. “Hopefully we can pick it up early and get off to a fast start and see where we’re at.”

To make sure this April follows a different path, the Giants brought in Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson. Samardzija is very familiar with McCutchen, having faced him 40 times over the years, mostly while both were in the NL Central. He already has run into Longoria at the Scottsdale facility, and he certainly will benefit from the addition of Jackson, who will help shore up an outfield defense that hurt Samardzija more than any Giants pitcher. 

Samardzija said the group is already bonding and they have found common ground in a trait that outsiders view as their potential downfall. The Giants have added three 30-somethings to an already old team, but the 33-year-old Samardzija said that has become a rallying cry.

“(We’re) joking around about our ages. That’s the cool thing about having a bunch of veteran guys,” he said. “Everyone has thick skin and has been there and is able to take things with a grain of salt. Everyone understands that the stories will be written after the 162 games are played and that’s when it matters.”

For more from the interview, including Samardzija’s thoughts on what makes McCutchen such a special player, stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrew McCutchen hit a towering, three-run homer, Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in his first big league game this season and Nick Hundley also connected to back Jeff Samardzija in the San Francisco Giants' 8-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

The Angels had only five hits, including a homer by Mike Trout, a double by Albert Pujols for his 2,991st career hit and two singles by Shohei Ohtani.

Samardzija (1-0) just made it through five innings to qualify for the win. He walked the bases loaded with two outs before manager Bruce Bochy came out for a mound visit. Justin Upton drove Samardzija's next pitch to the warning track in left, where Williamson caught it. Samardzija flinched at first, thinking it was gone, and then smiled as he walked toward the dugout. Bochy smiled and clapped his hands.

Samardzija opened the season on the disabled list with a pectoral strain suffered during spring training. He allowed two hits in five innings, struck out four and walked four.

Ohtani had the Angels' first hit off Samardzija, a single to center with two outs in the second. Ohtani had gone 0 for 4 with three strikeouts the night before as the Boston Red Sox completed a sweep. The designated hitter singled again in the ninth.

McCutchen, the designated hitter, drove a 1-2 pitch from Andrew Heaney into the Giants' bullpen beyond the left-field fence with one out in the fifth to chase the left-hander.

Heaney (0-1) allowed the first five batters to reach in the fifth. He allowed Williamson's homer to right and an RBI single by Austin Jackson.

Hundley hit an opposite-field shot to right in the second, his first. He added an RBI double in the eighth.

Trout homered to left-center off Pierce Johnson in the eighth, his seventh. Two batters later, Pujols drove a ball to the base of the fence in center before being replaced by pinch-runner Jefry Marte.

OHTANI'S BLISTER

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't sure if the seams on big league baseballs are what caused the blister on Ohtani's right middle finger that forced the Japanese two-way sensation out after just two innings Tuesday night against Boston in his third major league pitching start.

"He worked very hard getting used our baseball starting last winter," Scioscia said. "Blisters...come and go with pitchers occasionally at some point. Exactly when they crop up with some guys is a mystery. There are probably a lot of things that came into play for Shohei to have his become significant to where it affected some of his pitches. But I don't know if there's any one reason that you could pin down right now. He feels much better. We got him out in time last start where it didn't get any worse and hopefully he'll be able to make his next start."

Some pitchers blamed slicker balls for blisters last season.

Scioscia remained noncommittal about when Ohtani's next start would be, but a six-man rotation would have him Ohtani pitching Monday at Houston.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: Placed OF Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb and recalled Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-2, 4.60) is scheduled to start Saturday night. He has appeared in more games against the Angels than any other team, going 10-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances, including 25 starts.

Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60) is scheduled to make his first career start against San Francisco on Saturday night.

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence (right thumb sprain) on the 10-day DL on Friday, and recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from the triple-A Sacramento River Cats to take his place against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Pence missed his first game of the season on Thursday, as San Francisco lost the series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1. He's batting .172 on the season, and was 1-for-17 in his last five games. 

After revamping his swing, Williamson started off red-hot at the plate in Sacramento. He slashed .487/.600/1.026 in 50 plate appearances at triple-A. He will bat seventh and start in left field against the Angels. 

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani will bat sixth as the Angels' designated hitter, while Jeff Samardzija will take the hill for the Giants for the first time this season.

Here's who else will start for Bruce Bochy and Mike Scioscia. 

Giants (7-11)

1. Austin Jackson (R) CF

2. Joe Panik (L) 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen (R) DH

4. Buster Posey (R) 1B

5. Evan Longoria (R) 3B

6. Nick Hundley (R) C

7. Mac Williamson (R) LF

8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) RF

9. Kelby Tomlinson (R) SS

SP: Jeff Samardzija (First start this season)
 

Angels (13-6) 

1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B

2. Mike Trout (R) CF

3. Justin Upton (R) LF

4. Albert Pujols (R) 1B

5. Luis Valbuena (L) 3B

6. Shohei Ohtani (L) DH

7. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS

8. Kole Calhoun (L) RF

9. Martin Maldonado (R) C

SP: Andrew Heaney (0-0, 5.40 ERA)