Giants

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

SAN FRANCISCO — Just before 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, Barry Bonds became the 10th player in Giants history to have his number retired. One of the previous nine spent part of Saturday’s ceremony stumping for Bonds to get further recognition. 

Willie Mays was one of several to give a speech Saturday, and he used part of his time to urge voters to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame. Through six years on the ballot, Bonds has not gotten particularly close. 

“The Hall of Fame, when you get there, you see, man, how could I get there,” Mays said. “And I want him to have that honor (and) be something that’s happened to him … vote this guy in.”

Bonds avoided any big picture talk, preferring instead to give an emotional speech in which he thanked family members, including his late father, his coaches going back to college, and teammates and others who stood by his side during one of the best careers in MLB history. Bonds had to stop speaking a couple of times because he was overcome by emotion. At the end, he had a simple message. 

“Thank you San Francisco,” he said. “Thank you for making all my dreams come true. Love you.” 

Five of the nine previous Giants to have their numbers retired were on hand for the ceremony. Mays, Bonds’ godfather, was joined by Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal. Bonds was joined on the field by family members — including his mom, who was escorted onto the field by Brandon Crawford — and former teammates, including Kirk Rueter, Robb Nen and Bobby Bonilla. 

Bruce Bochy sat alongside two other former Bonds managers, Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland. Video messages were sent by Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Pudge Rodriguez, Steve Kerr, Steph Curry and Tom Brady, who was booed so loudly that you couldn’t hear his message. The Giants even brought Eric

Gagne back to discuss a legendary confrontation that ended with a Bonds homer to dead center. Gagne said he wanted to challenge the best to do it, and he got beat. 

Bonds’ number was retired 25 years after he joined the Giants as a free agent. Team president and CEO Larry Baer remembered pitching Bonds to come to the Giants as he considered offers from the Yankees and Braves. 

“Barry, clearly choked up, said, ‘If I could come home again, you don’t know what it would mean to me,’” Baer remembered. “Barry came home, and today we make it official, that this ballpark will be his home forever.”

Giants add Alyssa Nakken to Gabe Kapler's 13-person coaching staff

Giants add Alyssa Nakken to Gabe Kapler's 13-person coaching staff

Gabe Kapler spent most of his first month with the Giants interviewing candidates for his ideal coaching staff.

When the final pieces were put into place Thursday afternoon, it became even more clear that the Giants are going with a group that's unlike anything the game has seen before. 

The organization announced that Mark Hallberg and Alyssa Nakken are joining Kapler's staff as Major League Assistant Coaches, giving the Giants 13 coaches in all, including Nakken, who is the first woman to hold a coaching position on a big-league staff. In a statement, Kapler said Hallberg and Nakken will "focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse."

"In every organization, environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different," Kapler said. "That's why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team."

Long before Kapler arrived, Giants officials had grown concerned about the energy in a clubhouse that has suffered through three straight losing seasons. The Giants plan to make that a focus in spring training, and they're using their resources toward that end. You are only allowed to have seven uniformed coaches in the dugout, but there is no limit on how many you can pay in general, or how many can work with players between games.

The two new hires give the Giants 12 big league coaches who were not on Bruce Bochy's staff. The lone holdover is Ron Wotus, who will remain as third-base coach. 

Nakken played softball at Sacramento State, worked at USF, and got degrees from both schools. She joined the Giants as an intern in 2014 and has done work related to the amateur draft and player development. 

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Hallberg was the manager in Salem-Keizer in 2019 and was their fundamentals coach in 2018. He played his college ball at Florida State with Buster Posey and was a ninth-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2007. The 34-year-old played in the minors for five seasons before becoming a coach in the Cape Cod League. 

Giants sign pitcher Drew Smyly to one-year contract, add rotation depth

Giants sign pitcher Drew Smyly to one-year contract, add rotation depth

Last January, the Giants signed lefties Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz to one-year contracts, with mixed results. This year, Drew Smyly is the lefty joining the rotation mix. 

The Giants announced Thursday that they've signed Smyly to a one-year, $4 million big league contract. Right-hander Trevor Oaks, claimed from the Kansas City Royals earlier this offseason, was DFA'd to clear a 40-man roster spot. Smyly can make an additional $3 million on bonuses tied to starting pitching and $1 million in reliever bonuses. He'll get a $250,000 bonus if he's on the opening day roster.

Smyly, 30, spent last season with Gabe Kapler's Philadelphia Phillies, posting a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts but averaging more than a strikeout per inning. He'll immediately join a crowded race to be in the Opening Day starting rotation, and he has a leg up simply because of the arm he throws with. The Giants are extremely right-handed on the roster, and Smyly joins Tyler Anderson as lefties who could help break up Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and others. Anderson currently is rehabbing from a knee injury. 

Smyly has bounced around the American League for most of his career, and he put up good numbers before Tommy John surgery derailed him in 2017. Smyly had a 3.53 ERA in three years in Detroit and a 3.93 ERA in three seasons with the Rays. He was a good enough young pitcher that at one point he was included in a deal for David Price, but Smyly has struggled to stay in a rotation since having elbow surgery. 

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Smyly didn't pitch in the big leagues in 2017 or 2018 and had 13 rocky appearances for the Texas Rangers in 2019. He was released by the Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers before catching on in Philadelphia, where he was a solid rotation piece down the stretch and posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts.

The Giants had been looking for left-handed help, and Smyly should find himself with the same opportunity Pomeranz and Holland were given last year. Both started the season in the rotation and eventually ended up in the bullpen. Pomeranz turned into a nice trade chip, bringing Mauricio Dubon to San Francisco at the deadline.