Santiago Casilla shocks the world, gets a hit


Santiago Casilla shocks the world, gets a hit


PHOENIX The Giants 6-2 victory Saturday night moved themanother 24 hours nearer to an NL West sprayfest, they had the added pleasure ofbeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pablo Sandoval had an encouraging game withthe bat and glove and Hunter Pence nearly up-chucked his postgame kale when he learned he has almost as many RBIs as hitsafter ripping a grand slam.

But lets begin this exposition with the important stuff.

Santiago Casilla got a hit.

As in base hit. A single. And, to risk blowing off the top of your skull,he picked up an RBI, too.

Hey, I was seeingthe ball good tonight, said the smiling right-handed reliever, whose backward-reelinghitting style resembles a dizzy piata swing if youre afraid the piata haseight-inch fangs.

Casilla had two career plate appearances entering Saturdaynight, and they were memorable to everyone but Casilla. He had more recoil than a .500 Magnum while drawing a comical walk last year at Florida and he struck out earlier this year at Milwaukee.

Then his spot in the lineup came up with the bases loaded inthe eighth inning. Whatever the outcome, this was going to be good.

Casilla showed bunt on the first pitch and bailed out. Hewas under orders not to swing, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.


After he took one, he looked at me, Bochy said. I toldhim, Go ahead and swing. I think we were all shocked, really, that he evenmade contact.

Matt Lindstrom threw a 95 mph fastball and Casilla fisted itto the right side, where it snuck through. And just like that, he has a .667 on-base percentage for his career -- areal Moneyball player. And to think, the As gave him away.

The Giants already had one braggadocio in their bullpen withJeremy Affeldt. Now, alas, they have two. What did Affeldt think of Casillas form?

The one where he jumped in their dugout or the one where hegot the hit? Affeldt said. I tell ya, he had a flat bat. Hes got an RBI. I tip my hat.

All the hard work hes doing, Affeldt added, stifling agrin, its paid off.

But if there ever comes a day when Affeldt has to faceCasilla

If he gets a hit off me, I will take my uniform top off, walkoff the mound and retire, Affeldt said.

Casilla was presented with the ball from his first bigleague hit and the lineup card. He also commandeered another souvenir: The bathe borrowed from Gregor Blanco.

He's not borrowing it any longer.

Now this is my bat. Its a Blanco bat, Casilla said. Isaid, Give me that bat. He said, No no no no no! I said, I need that bat.Its very good.

Casilla said he never got a hit before in his professionalcareer. Nothing in winter ball, either. So perhaps that explains why he didntknow what to do after running through first base. He turned left when heshouldve turned right, then had to double-step it to the bag to avoid gettingtagged out.

I mean, who panics after a base hit? Affeldt said. Theykept replaying it and the shock on his face was the best part.

Maybe Casilla just needed experience. He said last time, hetried the dead pull approach and struck out. This time?

Go the other way, he said. I try to be like Posey.

Its a game of adjustments, right?

If anything, Casilla proved the old clich beyond any reasonable doubt: Any majorleaguer with a bat in his hands really is dangerous.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.