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Zito says 'anything's possible' after 1st Giant shutout at Coors

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Zito says 'anything's possible' after 1st Giant shutout at Coors

BOX SCORE

DENVER Long after the handshakes and easy smiles on thefield Monday afternoon, after all the postgame commotion had died down and BarryZito had stepped away from his locker, pitching coach Dave Righetti quietlyshuffled over to that corner of the visiting clubhouse.

Clad in shower shoes and undershirt, Righetti carried thelineup card from the Giants 7-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Drawing noattention to himself, he quickly but carefully placed it in Zitos locker.

No further comment necessary.

Zito did more than rescue the Giants from falling to 0-4 forthe first time since 1950. He did more than redeem himself after a rottenspring that turned into batting practice by the hopeless end. He did more thanpitch a gem after Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain could not.

He made history, too. Against all the numbers a Vegassportsbook could crunch, Zito became the first Giant to throw a shutout in 18years of baseball at Coors Field.

Yes, this is the same pitcher who yielded 45 baserunners in19.1 innings this spring. This is the same beleaguered left-hander who was underorders to overhaul his approach in the span of two side sessions and just oneminor league camp game. This is the man the Giants stuck on the mound Mondaybecause they owe him 46 million and they had no other choice.

All of it considered, could Zito ever believe that pitching a four-hit shutout waspossible?

Yeah sure, he said, with a bit of a stammer. I mean,anythings possible.

This was the start that Zito always wanted after signing hisseven-year, 126 million contract. This was the chance he always hoped toseize. Back in 2010, in the second to last game of the regular season, he had an opportunity to clinch the NL West if he could beat the Padres. He issued two bases-loadedwalks in the first inning, was gone after three and was banished from theplayoff roster, a spectator for a World Series run.

But this time, he came through beyond anyones imagination. He did not jump for joy or offer a flurry of fist pumps afterTodd Helton grounded out to clinch his first shutout in six years as a Giant.He only smiled as he met rookie catcher Hector Sanchez on the grass for arelaxed hug. Aubrey Huff was next, with a crisp high-five and a more emphaticembrace.

Its no secret he gets buried by fans and the media,everything like that, so for all the haters out there, thats for them, Huffsaid. That was fun to watch. Ive never wanted to scoop a ball to end a gamemore in my life.

Were both at the end of our careers, guys in our mid-30s.We both want to see each other do well. To see him come out here and do what hedid, after an 0-3 start, is just amazing.

Just when you think youve seen it all in baseball

Or, as manager Bruce Bochy put it, as a smile crept acrosshis face: Its been said many times that spring training is overrated.

Zito only allowed two runners into scoring position. NoRockies reached third base.

He also struck out four while throwing his third completegame as a Giant and the 12th of his career. It was just the secondtime that he went the distance without issuing a walk; the other instance wasSept. 10, 2000 his rookie season against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

It was his fifth career shutout and his first since April18, 2003, when he still wore green and gold. He couldnt remember anythingabout that day, except that he pitched against the Texas Rangers. It had been solong ago.

One more: Zito became just the ninth opponent to throw ashutout at Coors Field; he and Roy Oswalt are the only pitchers to accomplishit in the last 13 seasons.

How did he do it? By keeping the Rockies off his fastball,getting ahead in the count and surprising them whenever he fell behind.

Even when he was behind in the count, he always got evenwith the breaking ball or the changeup for a strike, Rockies catcher RamonHernandez said. As hitters, even when youre ahead, if you see something soft,you take. Early on, maybe the first four innings, it seemed like he did notthrow one breaking ball for a ball. Thats going to make him pretty tough.

He would get guys to stay back and then hed surprise youwith fastball in or away.

Bochy had closer Brian Wilson warmed up andholding a baseball on the bullpen mound as Zito began the ninth with 102 pitches.Zito needed just 12 more to retire the side.

He was throwing the ball so well, he deserved a chance togo out there, Bochy said. He had four pitches going and great concentration.He went out there and used his cutter, which helped him. He had good command ofhis fastball, curve and changeup, and he pounded the strike zone."

Zito kept some tenets of momentum pitching in hisdelivery, which he developed over the winter with controversial guru Tom House tweaks that were not well received by Giants officials. In his last twoexhibition starts, he got hammered for 10 runs on 16 hits (10 extra-base hits)and five walks in 5 13 innings. Something had to change.

Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner worked with Zito inhis last few side sessions to stand taller, which was more apparent in the windupthan the stretch. Zito said the newest adjustments were designed to give hisarm a little more time to catch up to the rest of his body.

Its just doing whatever I could to get the ball down,Zito said. The ball was up pretty good the last two starts of spring. It wasdoing everything I could to get my timing better, get out in front better. Itwas still a crouch but my weight was back a little more. It probably wasnt asobvious to the eye, but it was different.

The Giants haveasked Zito to watch Jamie Moyer, the Rockies 49-year-old wonder, who isscheduled to start against them on Thursday. Moyer doesnt throw a pitch above80 mph. Zito topped out at 84.

Zito might be catching onto something now. He understands he cant pitchlike hes throwing 90 mph any longer.

Youve just gotta be realistic, he said. Even if you spotup a lot of the time, guys are going to hit the fastball well so you just haveto keep them off balance. If you can get them looking for a couple pitches atthe same time, thats when things go well.

As for his success against the Rockies, which includes a 6-2record and 2.39 ERA in 18 career games?

I always say if you catch me on a good day when stuffsworking, things are going to turn out good regardless of the team, he said.

The next team that Zito faces will be the PittsburghPirates, at home on Saturday. Maybe then, hell get to follow terrific starts byLincecum, Bumgarner and Cain instead of three disappointing ones.

For an unexpectedly sunny and warm Colorado afternoon though,Zito was the rock the rotation needed.

Ah, thats good, he said, asked about being a stopper. Nota personal thing but from a team standpoint, it feels great especially to winin the fashion we did. We had good at-bats early. We just played good baseballoverall today. Its a good feeling to motivate us to keep it going.

Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton

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Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton

The hot stove is heating up. 

Giancarlo Stanton is the biggest name swirling in trade rumors and the Giants are reportedly pushing forward in their attempt to acquire the slugger. San Francisco's front office has proposed a trade to Miami for Stanton, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

Details of what the Giants offered have not been reported yet. 

Stanton, who recently turned 28, is guaranteed $295 million over the next 10 seasons. His contract includes a full no-trade clause and an opt-out after 2020. 

On Thursday, Stanton was named the National League MVP after hitting .281 with a league-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI. The last MVP to be traded in the offseason after winning the award was Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the Yankees before the 2004 season. 

How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

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How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League came to an end for seven Giants prospects on Thursday as the Scottsdale Scorpions (12-17-1) came up short from playing in Saturday's championship game. 

Let's take a look at how these seven names fared against some of the top young talent in all of baseball. 

The Hitters

As the Giants are linked to trade targets in center field like Billy Hamilton and Jackie Bradley Jr., a young in-house option only helped his case in the desert.

Steven Duggar likely would have seen the AT&T outfield this season, but his season was hindered by injuries, keeping him to only 44 games between three levels. With the Scorpions, Duggar took advantage of his opportunity with more at-bats. 

Duggar left Arizona with a .263/.367/.421 slash line over 20 games. The speedy lefty also stole nine bases and hit three home runs. Even if the Giants go for an experienced glove in center field this offseason and keep Duggar, the 24-year-old has also played 135 games in right field during his minor league career. 

For the second straight year, the Giants sent catcher Aramis Garcia to the AFL. And he's sure to be coming home much happier this go around with an up-and-down campaign.

Splitting time behind the plate with three other catchers, Garcia appeared in 13 games and slashed .259/.293/.333 and hit one home run. Garcia struggled to get one base with only one walk to 10 strikeouts, but showed his natural ability to drive runs in with 10 RBI. 

Rounding out the Giants' trio of bats they sent to Arizona is arguably their top prospect, but his time in the AFL was cut short. Chris Shaw only played in five games and hit .158. He dealt with a sore shoulder.

The Pitchers

The Giants sent two starting pitchers (Tyler Beede and Joan Gregorio) and two relievers (Tyler Cyr and D.J. Snelten) to the AFL. 

Pitching for the first time in nearly three months, Beede showed exactly why he's the Giants' top pitching prospect. Beede went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts, but his final three show the potential he's full of -- 14 innings pitched, three earned runs, a 1.93 ERA, 10 strikeouts and only one walk. 

Gregorio, who was suspended this season for Performance Enhancing Drugs, pitched in eight games (three starts) for Scottsdale. He left with a 1-0 record and 5.87 ERA. In Triple-A, Gregorio went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA this year over 13 starts. The 25-year-old presents an interesting arm that can help sooner than later in the bullpen. 

Cyr's stats don't look pretty (0-1, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP), but he's catching some attention. The right-hander was named to the Fall Stars Game and is most likely to start 2018 in Triple-A after converting 18 saves at Double-A in 2017. 

Snelten, a 6-foot-7 lefty, impressed in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He didn't allow an earned run until his final outing of the fall, bringing his ERA from a perfect 0.00 to 2.25 in 12 innings pitched.

After combining for a 2.20 ERA to go with an 8-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Snelten is a name to know as the Giants look to find more lefties for their bullpen.