Giants

Willie McCovey: 'It's a sin' Barry Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame

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AP

Willie McCovey: 'It's a sin' Barry Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame

Giants legend and Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey is pushing for Barry Bonds to make it to Cooperstown in his sixth year on the ballot. 

“I just think it’s a sin he’s not in there,” McCovey said Friday to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “If anybody deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s Barry.”

McCovey also spoke out on a controversial letter written by another baseball legend. Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame second baseman who serves as the Hall's vice chairman, emailed a letter urging voters to not support players who admitted using steroids, failed drug tests or were mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell report. The letter was sent on Nov. 21, a day after this year's ballot came out. 

“That letter Morgan wrote sure is not going to help Barry,” McCovey said. “But I’m glad to hear a lot of the writers say the letter is not going to influence their vote because I know a lot of it is aimed at him. I wasn’t too happy about it.

“You’re naïve if you don’t think it was aimed at Barry.”

Morgan specifically stated he hopes “the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame." McCovey has a message for him. 

“Guys took things ever since baseball existed. It may not have been steroids, but guys took things like those greenies and stuff so they could play the next day. You’re telling me everybody is clean as a whistle? You played against guys who were doing the same thing he was doing, so what the heck?" McCovey says. 

When asked why Bonds should be voted into the Hall of Fame, McCovey made it clear there shouldn't be any debate. 

"You talk to anybody who played against him at that time, they’ll say he was the best hitter they ever saw in their lives. Those are his peers talking," McCovey said. 

Ryan Thibodaux, an Oakland native, tracks Hall of Fame ballots. With 132 public ballots plus four anonymous ones, good for 32.1 percent of votes, Bonds is currently at 72.8 percent of votes. He will be enshrined if he receives 75 percent of votes. This past year, Bonds received 53.8 percent of votes. 

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

PHOENIX — After his team was held to fewer than two runs for the 10th time this season, manager Bruce Bochy said Mac Williamson will be in Anaheim on Friday as part of the taxi squad. The Giants need the outfielder to be more of a tow truck. 

This is a lineup that has not gotten in gear in any way, but a red-hot reinforcement is on the way. Williamson was hitting .487 with six homers in 11 games in Triple-A, and while Bochy couldn’t say he’ll be active and in left field against the Angels, it was not hard to read between the lines. Hunter Pence said the thumb he sprained in the home opener continues to give him problems and needs a few days of rest. It seems likely that Williamson will officially be called up Friday, with Pence going on the disabled list. 

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Bochy said. “Mostly he’s coming up because he’s swinging the bat well. We’re hoping he’ll be a shot in the arm and provide some production, and we need some help in that area.”

The futility has the Giants six games out of first after just three weeks of action. The culprit is clear. Johnny Cueto, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach combined to give up three runs over 20 innings in a tough ballpark, but the Giants still dropped two of three. 

They need more than just one offensive fix, but Williamson represents a start. The 27-year-old has never stuck in the majors, but he rebuilt his swing in the offseason while working with Doug Latta, a private instructor in the Los Angeles area who helped Justin Turner became a star. Williamson’s swing has many of the same markers as Turner’s, and he had a huge spring as he continued to work on adjustments. Williamson lowered his hands and added a higher leg kick in hopes of keeping his bat in the zone longer and being shorter and more direct to the ball. 

“In the past I’ve been really active with my shoulders and hands late in the swing instead of just going and attacking the ball,” he said this spring. “I’m trying to just really calm down a lot of that non-essential movement.”

Williamson knew there was not a spot for him on the opening day roster, but hoped to make an impact sooner than later. His torrid start, plus the struggles at the big league level, have made this a daily question. 

“He showed this spring with the adjustments he made that he’s primed,” Bochy said. “He went out and did what we were hoping.”

The key for the Giants now will be to show more faith than they have in the past. Williamson is a .226 hitter in the big leagues, but his 212 at-bats have been scattered across three seasons and plenty of call-ups. It seems he is always one 0 for 3 night away from a demotion, but the Giants would be well served to let him work through any kinks this time. 

The incumbent in left field, Pence, is batting .172. His backups — Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco — are better fits as defense-first reserves. Pence hurt his thumb while diving in left field during the home opener and said it has never gotten better. An MRI back then showed a sprain. 

“It’s been going in a backwards direction,” he said. 

So have the Giants, but perhaps help is finally on the way.

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

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USATSI

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

PHOENIX -- The removal of three small pins in Madison Bumgarner's left pinky represented a big step for the pitcher. 

Bumgarner had the pins taken out Thursday and he now will begin the process of strengthening his hand, which was fractured during his final spring training appearance. He could begin playing catch in two weeks. 

"Once he gets that going, I think you'll see him make real progress," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

It still will be a long process for Bumgarner, who is on the 60-day DL and not eligible to return until May 26. It seems unlikely that he's ready on that day, but it could be soon thereafter. Bumgarner will need to play catch for a bit before starting bullpen sessions and eventually a real rehab assignment. Realistically, the Giants are hopeful that he'll be back in the rotation in early June. Bochy said he wouldn't be surprised if Bumgarner beats the initial timetable. 

"But it all depends on (how he feels) when he starts throwing," Bochy added. 

The Giants will get another key pitcher back Friday when Jeff Samardzija makes his season debut. 

--- Hunter Pence has a sore right thumb and wasn't in Thursday's lineup. The timing is, well, interesting. Mac Williamson wasn't in Triple-A Sacramento's lineup, so this could be the time a move is made, but the Giants also will need to clear a spot for Samardzija and they're hoping to stick with eight relievers for now. Stay tuned.