Amy G remembers Giants legend Willie McCovey as a treasure of a person

Amy G remembers Giants legend Willie McCovey as a treasure of a person

Those moments that stop you cold, you've experienced them. Hearing the news that Willie McCovey had died was one of those moments for me.

I received the news via text from a colleague, and I immediately went to social media hoping it wasn't true. Sadly, it was.

I just sat for a bit. I sat and thought about what Willie McCovey meant to me.

He was this unbelievably popular and larger-than-life figure for so many Giants fans, but to me, he was just Willie. I didn't grow up watching him play. I grew up hearing about him. And I've learned of his baseball prowess through watching endless footage of his prime playing days.

Story after story about Stretch has transcended through multiple generations of baseball. The legend that he was, he easily could have been difficult and unapproachable, but he was the exact opposite. I can't think of a time he wasn't warm, friendly, a gentlemen and a gentle man.

Every season, I'd interview Willie about the Stretch Drive -- something he lent his name to and passionately believed in. Growing up in Alabama, a glove was hard to come by, and he made it his mission to put a glove in the hands of any child who had a desire to play the game.

We ended up calling our yearly discussion our annual "date," and while the topic always was the same, we managed to get a little more out of this extremely humble and quiet man each season. We'd pass each other in the hallway, and I'd say, "Hey Willie, you excited about our date in a couple months, weeks, days?" He'd always chuckle and say "Always, Amy G," and his lovely wife, Estela, would give me a hug.

His exemplary play and stature was so well respected that the Willie Mac Award was created to recognize the most inspirational Giants player. It’s by far the highest honor a Giants player can receive, a coveted piece of hardware voted upon by teammates, coaches, trainers and now fans speaks to how a player handles himself on and off the field. I'm saddened to think of watching the 2019 winner announced without Willie on the field to say his name ... but I believe he'll be there, looking over us.

However you refer to Mr. McCovey -- be it Willie, Willie Mac, Stretch or 44 -- there's one word that personifies him: treasure. He was a great player but perhaps even a better human being.

I will miss our dates. I will miss you, Willie McCovey.

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

PHOENIX -- On days like this, Giants manager Bruce Bochy often says "you like to get greedy." Madison Bumgarner nodded as those words were repeated to him Sunday afternoon.

The Giants took three of four in Phoenix, which was good work given their spot in the NL wild-card race. They moved a game ahead of the Diamondbacks, one of many teams they're battling for two spots. But it was hard not to feel a bit disappointed given that they went into the fourth game with Bumgarner on the mound and lost 6-1

"We'll leave here feeling good because we did take three of four from a team we're chasing. We keep doing that, I think we'll be okay," Bumgarner said. "But at the same time, everyone here -- especially me -- wanted to come away with a sweep."

The Giants had not lost with Bumgarner on the mound in nearly five weeks. The lefty hadn't taken a loss on his record since June 20. But the Diamondbacks scored three in the first and got four in six innings against Bumgarner.

There were two key plays in the loss, one on defense and one at the plate.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the first, Adam Jones hit a sinking liner to center that looked like a hit off the bat. But Kevin Pillar has made a habit of coming out of nowhere for a diving catch, and he got a good break on the ball, which had a hit probability of 73 percent. 

Pillar's diving effort came up about two inches short and the Diamondbacks scored a pair. Jones would score on a single. 

"He makes a lot of unbelievable catches and I want him to try to do that," Bumgarner said. "I was glad to see he tried to go for it instead of trying to play it on a bounce. I like the aggressive play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't in this game."

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game in the sixth when Mike Yastrzemski tripled and a single and two walks loaded the bases. The Diamondbacks brought lefty Andrew Chafin in to face Brandon Crawford, who had five hits in 19 previous at-bats against Chafin.

Bochy had Evan Longoria on the bench and could have pinch-hit the righty while sliding Donovan Solano from third to short, but he stuck with Crawford, who is batting .224 on the season and came out early on a double-switch the other night. Crawford grounded out. 

"His numbers aren't bad off (Chafin). It's two outs and I'm trying to stay away from Longo," Bochy said. "Hey, he's gotten a lot of big hits for us. I'm not going to quit on him now."

The finale was rough, but the weekend was still a good one for the Giants. Their problem right now is that good may not be enough. Two of the teams they’re chasing won while the Giants were on the field. They’ll now visit the Cubs, who occupy the second wild-card spot.  

The Giants will go with Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field this week. They'll face Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. 

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"They're all big. We've got to win games. We're the ones who are behind," Bochy said. "It was a good series. You come in here and take three out of four, you've got to feel good about that. We lost this one but you take three out of four, you'll take that.

"We'll head to Chicago, take a day off and regroup, and it's going to be another big series."

Giants DFA Travis Bergen; Logan Webb will pitch in Bay Bridge Series

Giants DFA Travis Bergen; Logan Webb will pitch in Bay Bridge Series

PHOENIX -- The most notable part of a roster move made Sunday may have been a player not actually listed in the move.

To clear a spot for Abiatal Avelino -- a needed fourth bench player for Bruce Bochy -- the Giants designated left-hander Travis Bergen for assignment. They kept Logan Webb around, lining the 22-year-old up to face the A's next weekend in Oakland. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said he doesn't have his rotation set yet, but Webb is in it for now. Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija will start in Chicago this week, followed by Bumgarner and Webb in some order, it seems. 

Webb gave up just two runs through five innings in his debut Saturday night. The Giants need the help, as Shaun Anderson will make at least one rehab start before returning from a blister. 

[RELATED: 'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut]

Bergen was one of five lefty relievers in the bullpen and the move marks the end of a long look for the Rule 5 pick. The Giants parted with their other Rule 5 pick, Drew Ferguson, in spring training, but Bergen made the Opening Day roster and threw 21 times while spending plenty of time on the Injured List. He had a 5.49 ERA. Bergen must now be offered back to the Blue Jays.

"You look at the bullpen and the one we felt we could afford to lose at this point -- we didn't want to -- was Travis," Bochy said. "The young kid did a nice job at times. I know he spent time on the IL. We just couldn't find a way to keep him."