Is Austin Slater part of a youth movement for Giants?

Is Austin Slater part of a youth movement for Giants?

PHILADELPHIA -- Three hours before Friday's game, Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater walked out of the clubhouse and looked around. They were in search of the batting cage at Citizens Bank Park. This is all new to them, and it's new to the Giants, too.

They added Arroyo, now 22, a month ago, and the 24-year-old Slater and 25-year-old Orlando Calixte have joined from Triple-A Sacramento over the past week. Slater is hitting eighth and playing right field Friday in his major league debut. 

Is this a youth movement for an aging and struggling team?

"You know what, we want to take a look at the young guys and see what we have here," manager Bruce Bochy said.

There are, however, caveats. Bochy said Slater will play every day until Hunter Pence returns from a hamstring injury, and that could be any day now. Arroyo, after slumping through the end of May, was ready to go back to Sacramento before Hunter Strickland's appeal hearing was pushed back two weeks. He flew on his own Thursday and it appears he'll be optioned in the coming days.

So, the Giants haven't yet committed to a rebuild or even a new look for their current squad. But they are curious to see what they have in players like Slater, who will primarily be a corner outfielder but can handle center in a pinch. 

Slater, a Stanford product, had an .841 OPS for the River Cats. He's a career .308 hitter in the minors and the power is starting to come. Slater suffered a fracture in his left hand playing winter ball, and the Giants believe that held him back in the spring. Now fully healthy and locked in, Slater is excited for the opportunity. He wasn't allowed to get on a 5 a.m. bus on Thursday. Eventually, manager Dave Brundage told him to head to San Francisco for the chartered flight to Philadelphia.

"I really didn't know what was going on," he said, laughing. "I was half asleep."

He was all smiles Friday. His parents are here, along with his sister. Some friends are coming up Saturday to watch the Jacksonville native continue his first weekend in the big leagues.

Slater hopes to break through the way Arroyo did early on. He said watching Arroyo's promotion helped motivate him even more.

"Absolutely. Being down there, you love to see that kind of stuff happen," he said. "It shows you they're willing to reward stellar play. You think, alright, he set the benchmark but if I play well they're not afraid to make a move."

Why shaking it up won't be as easy as it sounds for Giants

Why shaking it up won't be as easy as it sounds for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — At several points in August, while explaining why he still had hope, manager Bruce Bochy compared his team to St. Louis. The Cardinals disappointed throughout the first half, but put it together for a few weeks and got themselves back in the race. Bochy hoped this weekend’s series would be meaningful for two franchises that ruled the National League for much of the past decade. 

It will be meaningful for the Cardinals, who are currently in the second wild card spot, but for the Giants, it’s simply the final road series on the way to “shaking it up.”

That feeling has been percolating on Giants Twitter for two years. There are many fans who have been ready to blow this all up for a while now, and recently, team president and CEO Larry Baer gave that group some hope. 

“We’re gonna shake it up,” he said during an appearance on KNBR. “I can’t tell you how it gets shaken up from a players’ point of view. I think Brian (Sabean) has said it — we’re just gonna shake it up.”

With the end of the season fast approaching, it’s worth asking what exactly that might mean. How many Giants are on their final trip in orange and black? How many big names might be shipped out?

Well, for the Giants, “shaking it up” will be much harder than it appears because of three other words: no-trade clause. 

Buster Posey has a full no-trade clause. Brandon Crawford does, too. Ditto for Mark Melancon. Those are three of seven Giants owed at least $14 million next year (Pablo Sandoval is an eighth, but the Red Sox are paying nearly every penny), and they’re going nowhere. 

Add Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to that list, too, for a different reason. Both are hurt, and you can’t trade an injured pitcher who lives in the $20 million per year neighborhood. You just can’t. 

Out of the big contracts, that leaves Brandon Belt ($16 million) and Evan Longoria ($14.5 million, although the Rays are contributing). Longoria turns 33 in three weeks and, while he’s been much better of late, it was still a down year offensively and his contract runs through 2022. It’s hard to see any scenario where moving him is realistic or brings back a return that makes the Giants better, and when you talk to team officials, Longoria is never a name brought up as a trade option. 

Belt is the player mentioned most often in hypothetical discussions, but that ignores the details. A Belt trade would be complicated by the three years and $48 million remaining on his deal and the fact that he’s about to have knee surgery for a second time. And again, we bring you back to those contract details. Belt can provide a list every offseason of 10 teams he cannot be traded to. He has never shown any inclination that he wants to leave San Francisco, and his list is said to reflect that desire. It would not be hard, given how many teams are in tank mode these days, for Belt and his representatives to form a list that makes it nearly impossible for the Giants to find a trade partner. 

There are other ways the Giants could shake it up, of course. Joe Panik and Hunter Strickland are notable Giants who are starting to get pricy in arbitration, there could be changes in the front office or to the coaching staff, and more firings are expected with support staff. There’s the nuclear option, too. Madison Bumgarner has one year remaining on his deal and at some point the Giants could put him on the market. 

Bumgarner doesn’t want to go anywhere, though, and like the others, he would have some say in the matter. Yep, you guessed it. His contract includes the right to block a trade to eight teams. Once again, “shaking it up” will be harder than it sounds. 

Giants reliever, coach put calmer spin on pregame handshake

Giants reliever, coach put calmer spin on pregame handshake

We've all seen the pregame handshakes that are meant to fire up players. JaVale McGee was the designated handshake guy for the Warriors the last two years. He had custom handshakes with all the starters, including Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

Handshakes are supposed to have energy.

Someone clearly forgot to tell Giants reliever Sam Dyson and first base coach Jose Alguacil.

On Wednesday in San Diego, the pair were caught on camera engaging in a strange ritual in the dugout. As you can see in the video above, Dyson starts by wiping away any sweat on the bald dome of Alguacil with a towel. Then he gently places a batting helmet on Alguacil's now-dry head and dabs at it with the towel. After infielder Chase d'Arnaud sneaks in for a handshake with Alguacil, Dyson and Alguacil shake for a solid five seconds before placing a hand on each other's chest.

Hey, whatever it takes to get fired up for Game No. 153.