Giants

After blowing save vs Marlins, Hunter Strickland fractured his hand punching a door

After blowing save vs Marlins, Hunter Strickland fractured his hand punching a door

SAN FRANCISCO — Hunter Strickland’s temper has at times tarnished his reputation, led to a suspension, and ignited a fight that was a low point of the 2017 season and ended Michael Morse's career. Now, it has cost the Giants their closer for a couple of months. 

Strickland punched a door after blowing a save Monday night and suffered a fracture in his pitching hand. The right-hander had surgery on his right pinky finger, the fifth metacarpal, Tuesday afternoon and is expected to miss at least six to eight weeks. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said he did not find out about Strickland until he got home after a 5-4 loss. He said the news “crushed” him, noting that Strickland had grown as a pitcher and person since taking over the closer role at the end of spring training. 

“The closer has got to have emotional control,” Bochy said. “We all get frustrated and that’s a tough loss and a gut-wrenching loss. I’m sure he felt full responsibility. He didn’t think before it happened. I’m thoroughly disappointed, trust me. I’m crushed, because this guy has grown as a pitcher and a person. I know Hunter cares deeply.”

Strickland was not available to the media Tuesday because he left the park early in the afternoon to see a doctor, but he posted a lengthy message to his Instagram page. Strickland apologized to his family, teammates and fans, writing "I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal."

"This is our life, and we take pride in what we do, so when we fail it hurts," he went on to say. "But that is by no means an excuse because every action has a reaction - which is what I'm seeing now. I've made a mistake and regret it, but I will not give up and will learn from this! I completely understand how this portrays my character, which I will humbly work on areas in my life that need refinement."

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Life has an interesting and sometimes disappointing way of opening up our eyes. Words cannot describe the amount of regret and sorrow I have for my actions. I have let down the ones that care and mean the most, as well as the ones that count on me day in and day out. To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal. As well as providing for my family. I own all responsibilities and consequences because these were no ones actions but myself. I will work hard to get back with the guys and help contribute to some more wins. This is our life, and we take pride in what we do, so when we fail it hurts. But that is by no means an excuse because every action has a reaction- which is what I’m seeing now. I’ve made a mistake and regret it, but I will not give up and will learn from this! I completely understand how this portrays my character, which I will humbly work on areas in my life that need refinement. I sincerely didn’t do this out of selfishness, but simply because I let down the ones that count on me most and my emotions got the best of me in that moment. So again, I’m sorry, and now I have to move forward.

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Strickland had shown signs of growth since a fight with Bryce Harper last season. Members of the staff noticed a change in his demeanor on the mound, and a new, calmer slider led to a start that had him getting All-Star consideration. Strickland had a 2.01 ERA and 13 saves in 16 opportunities before facing the Marlins. They took advantage of a night when Strickland had poor command, scoring three runs to take the lead and steal a win. 

Strickland yelled some words at rookie Lewis Brinson as he walked off the field. Brinson had celebrated after getting the game-tying single. Shortly thereafter, Strickland threw an ill-advised punch with his pitching hand. 

Without Strickland, Bochy said he will lean on Tony Watson and Sam Dyson for the ninth inning. Mark Melancon, who got a record deal to be the closer, is not viewed as durable enough at this point because of his own injury issues. Watson and Dyson have been having strong seasons, and Bochy said one of them will get the lion’s share of the save opportunities. Rookie Pierce Johnson returned to take Strickland’s roster spot. 

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Have you fully digested the 2020 MLB schedule that was released on Monday? Good, because here comes the 2021 schedule! 

MLB released full schedules for next season, and the Giants once again open on the road, but this time in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in club history, the Giants will begin the season in an interleague park with a series in Seattle starting April 1. The Giants play their home opener April 9 against the Rockies. Here's the full schedule:

This will be the 12th consecutive season that the Giants open on the road, something they generally ask for so that they can finish the season at home and have more dates at Oracle Park when kids are out of school over the summer. They will begin the 2020 season in Los Angeles in two weeks (maybe).

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The 2020 season kept teams in their own region as much as possible, which means that the Giants will play the AL West two consecutive years. They were supposed to play the AL Central this season. The Giants will visit the Texas Rangers' new park next June and also have road series in Anaheim and Oakland, in addition to that opener in Seattle. The schedule includes the usual slate of trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc., so MLB is at least planning for the likelihood that society and travel are a bit more back to normal next year. 

If fans are allowed back into Oracle Park, there are a few series that stand out. 

[RELATED: Everything to know about the MLB season restart, Giants]

Mike Trout and the Angels visit May 31, Madison Bumgarner's Diamondbacks come for the first time on June 14, and the Houston Astros visit July 31 if you have a lot of pent-up booing you would like to do at some point in 2021. 

Marco Luciano, Joey Bart lead Giants' intriguing top prospects in camp

Marco Luciano, Joey Bart lead Giants' intriguing top prospects in camp

The simulated game at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon got the Giants a bit closer to being ready for their 2020 opener, and it also gave a huge glimpse of the future. 

Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey served as the two catchers for the early innings, Heliot Ramos was roaming the outfield and Will Wilson played at second base alongside Brandon Crawford. All four also got their turns at the plate.

The next wave is coming fast for the Giants, and they took advantage of the expansion of rosters to get most of their top prospects into camp last week (Hunter Bishop still could be on the way once he recovers from coronavirus). The players will spend the next two months in Sacramento, honing their craft every day and taking part in intrasquad games with plenty of former big leaguers. 

Here's a rundown of the top prospects who will be part of the player pool, and other minor leaguers who have been added to camp over recent days:

Marco Luciano

The most exciting young player in the system, Luciano is widely considered a top-20 prospect in the game and there are some evaluators who think he could be top-five by this time next year. Signed out of the Dominican Republic two years ago, the shortstop made his professional debut last year, batting .302/.417/.564 in 47 games, with 10 homers and 13 doubles. 

Luciano doesn't turn 19 until September, but he's the type of prospect who could hit his way to the big leagues before he can legally enter a bar. He isn't close to big league-ready, but he'll benefit greatly from three months of reps he couldn't get elsewhere, and he should skip a level or two when the minor league season returns. 

Luciano already is turning heads, and he has been one of the most-talked about players in camp the first week because of swings like this one (turn your sound up): 

Joey Bart

Bart is the heir apparent to Buster Posey and impressed in his month in big league camp. He was 7-for-16 with two homers in Cactus League games before getting sent to minor league camp two days before spring training shut down. 

Two hand fractures slowed Bart's progress last year, but he reached Double-A, tore up the Fall League -- a 1.290 OPS and four homers in 10 games before an injury -- and was set to start April in Triple-A. The Giants had planned for Bart to spend a couple of months there at least, but even with no minor league season, he's not really in the mix for an Opening Day job this month. 

"Do I think that it's likely that his best path to his best career is starting with the major league club? I don't think that's his best path," manager Gabe Kapler said on a recent Giants Insider Podcast.

Bart is in a fascinating spot. With extra roster spots and a DH, the Giants very easily could carry him at some point this season. On the other hand, Posey likely will get a higher percentage of starts than normal given how much of a sprint this is, and the organization could opt to keep Bart from accruing service time in 2020.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Heliot Ramos

Outside of Bart, Ramos, a first-round MLB draft pick in 2017, is the most likely of the hitting prospects to see Oracle Park in 2020. He wasn't in big league camp, but team officials hoped he might go to Double-A or Triple-A and play his way into a September call-up. Those won't exist this season, and Ramos will need a lot of injuries in the big league outfield to get an opportunity. It's hard to see how the Giants would want to start his clock in a 60-game season. 

Still, this is a great opportunity for Ramos, who hit 16 homers across two levels last season and finished his year in Double-A. He's still just 20, but he'll now get a summer to work more closely with established big leaguers and more seasoned coaches. It's possible that Ramos will continue progressing to the point that next spring he heads to Scottsdale competing for a big league job. 

Patrick Bailey 

Taken with the 13th overall pick just a month ago, the catcher was thrown right into the fire. Kapler said there was a lot to like about the way Bailey caught veterans in Wednesday's simulated game.

"Patrick has a lot of energy in his body," Kapler said. "I really, really like his setup, his flexibility in his ankles and hips. I think what is most impressive is his body language and his poise. A lot of people noticed that. It wasn't just my perspective. People were commenting on how poised and natural he was behind the plate and not rattled at all from the first real intense competition."

As an advanced hitter and game-caller, Bailey could start his professional career in San Jose next year and quickly move to Double-A. It might not be long before he's pushing to join Bart in the big leagues:

Alexander Canario

The 20-year-old isn't as well known as some others, but should be. Canario is ranked fifth in the system by Baseball-America and sixth by MLB Pipeline. He has tremendous raw power and bat speed, leading to 16 homers last season in 59 games. 

Canario is raw, and he has struck out a lot in the minors, but that also makes him someone who could benefit more than anyone from three months with higher-quality instruction.

"He hasn't played at a high level yet, there's a lot of development yet to occur," Kapler said. "With Canario, it's much more about getting the experience and being around the instructors."

Luis Toribio

Ranked sixth in the organization by BA and seventh by Pipeline, Toribio is yet another teenage prospect with huge potential. A third baseman, Toribio has the "best approach in the system," according to Baseball-America. In 118 minor league games, the left-handed hitter has a .428 OBP and 98 walks to 121 strikeouts. 

"He has plus defensive actions with a chance to hit for power and average," farm director Kyle Haines said of Toribio, who won't turn 20 until the day after this season ends. 

Will Wilson

The Giants considered taking Wilson with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft, but they took Bishop and the shortstop from NC State ended up going 15th to the Angels. When the Angels later wanted to dump Zack Cozart's $12.6 million, the Giants were happy to take it on -- with Wilson being the cost of doing business. 

The 21-year-old had a .275/.328/.439 line in 46 games last summer and comes to camp hoping to join former Wolfpack teammates Bailey and Nick Swiney en route to the big leagues. 

"He is a well-rounded player with versatility," Haines said. "A chance to be a plus offensive contributor while playing the middle infield."

Camilo Doval

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Doval hasn't been considered a top prospect, but he appears to have had a breakthrough. The 23-year-old has a fastball that reaches triple digits and a good slider, and while he hasn't pitched above A-ball, he came to minor league camp this year and opened eyes with his bullpen sessions. 

"He was lightning in minor league camp," Kapler said.  

Giants officials have continued to gather around Doval over the past week. A right-handed reliever can zoom to the big leagues with two good pitches, and Doval might have that in him. Kapler compared him to Seranthony Dominguez, who was Philadelphia's closer for part of the 2018 season. 

"It's really a big arm," Kapler said of Doval. "Our minor league staff is especially excited about Camilo and we've all spent a lot of time watching video. It's a fastball-slider combination that, from a stuff perspective, is going to play at the major league level. He needs more experience in a camp like this and that experience is not limited to what he does on the mound, but also his ability to work with catchers, know our bunt plays and prepare to help us. 

"Whether that's the outset of the season or another time down the road, it's really good for us to get eyes on him. I don't anticipate anything more than what I just said, which is seeing what happens and what transpires through camp. But a lot of people on the minor league side are really excited about him."

Caleb Baragar 

A lefty reliever who was taken in the ninth round of the 2016 draft, Baragar is coming off a solid season with Richmond. He had a 3.57 ERA and about a strikeout per inning across three levels last year and pitched for Sacramento in the Triple-A postseason. Kapler said Baragar's fastball is what stands out.

"It's the ability to compete, it's the ability to get in the zone and stay in the zone," he said. "And it's adding another left-hander to our mix."

Sam Wolff 

You probably recognize Wolff's name, and not just because he was in big league camp the last two springs. The 29-year-old right-hander came to the Giants in the Matt Moore trade with the Rangers after the Winter Meetings in 2017.

Wolff had flexor tendon surgery that year and was still rehabbing when traded, and he missed some time last year, too. When on the field for Double-A Richmond, he had a 1.78 ERA and 10.7 strikeouts per nine. As an advanced reliever who piles up strikeouts, Wolff is possibly more likely than anyone on this list but the next guy to debut in this weird season. Kapler said the Giants considered naming him to the initial player pool list that was released last week.

"He's older but is an established minor league pitcher with really good stuff," Kapler said. "One of the things that we thought about with our bullpen is that, because we don't have a lot of established veteran relievers with long track records of success, we wanted to open up the pool. That's why you're seeing Caleb and Wolff here. We want to see if we can catch somebody kind of hot with really, really good stuff and we want to create as much competition as possible."

[RELATED: Belt sidelined by heel pain as Giants' opener approaches]

Tyler Cyr

The 27-year-old Bay Area native has been in big league camp twice and made three Cactus League appearances this year before getting reassigned. He was back as part of the initial player pool and has jumped into the bullpen competition. 

Cyr looked like he would debut in 2018 but an elbow fracture cost him a season. He returned to Double-A last year and had a 2.05 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts-per-nine before joining the Sacramento River Cats for their postseason run. 

Chadwick Tromp

One of six catchers in camp, Tromp, a native of Aruba, was a minor league free agent who signed after seven seasons in the Reds organization. The 25-year-old had shoulder surgery in 2018 but came back last year to post a .389 OBP and hit seven homers in 26 Triple-A games. He has shown improved plate discipline at the upper levels of the minors, and provides catching depth that's always needed.