Giants

On big day for Slater, Nunez saves Giants from horrific time in Milwaukee

On big day for Slater, Nunez saves Giants from horrific time in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- In the second inning Thursday, a man burst from the seats along the left field line and headed for second base, his arms spread wide to show that he had left his pants and any underwear somewhere along the journey. The man was taken down hard, a soon-to-be pixelated section of his body grinding into the dirt where Brandon Crawford had just stood. It looked painful, possibly scarring. The infield dirt at Miller Park is firm and well-manicured.

We do not know why exactly a man would run naked across the dirt in the second inning, although we can guess. What we do know is that he still nearly had a better time at Miller Park than the Giants. If not for Eduardo Nuñez's vertical, he might have. 

Mark Melancon blew a two-run lead in the ninth but this time the Giants didn't fold. They responded with four runs in the top of the 10th, winning 9-5 and partially obscuring what had happened an inning earlier, and another potential issue. 

"You look at how it's gone for us -- we've had some tough times -- and we give up a two-run lead there in the ninth and find a way to win the ballgame," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That shows a lot about them, the character and how resilient they are, to come back and put a four-spot up, especially on a road trip that hasn't been good for us."

The trip ended up being a 3-4 swing through Philadelphia -- home of the worst team in ball -- and Milwaukee, where the Giants have always played well. This was not the trip that got things back on course. In fact, it likely further emboldened any in the organization ready for a change. Brian Sabean was on hand Thursday and nearly saw the latest collapse. Nuñez prevented it, snagging a hot liner headed for left with the winning run on third. Melancon bounced back to get the Giants out of the ninth. 

The big offseason acquisition, Melancon has three blown saves in 13 oppotunities. Of equal concern is the fact that Thursday was his first opportunity since May 27. It's been that kind of year, and it's clear the Giants still have some concerns in the bullpen. At least they finally have something to celebrate in left field. 

Bochy has been waiting for someone to grab the job and Austin Slater certainly showed he's worthy of an extended look. Slater reached base three times and smacked a 461-foot homer off the base of the scoreboard. Slater's first career blast was the longest by a Giant since Brandon Belt went 475 at Coors in 2015. 

"People were telling me where it went -- I put my head down and started running," Slater said. "I think I got a little better at (slowing the game down) these last two games in Milwaukee. Those first three in Philly it just felt like everything was racing by and everything was going 100 mph."

Bochy has encouraged his young outfielders to try and play relaxed baseball.

"Just show your talent," he said. "The only way to play this game is loose and free, that's when your talent surfaces."

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody at the Diamondbacks' spring training facility had uttered the name "Madison Bumgarner," despite seeing him numerous times.

He goes by Mason Saunders for now. That is his alter ego after all -- the one he uses to win cash prizes at rodeo events.

The sports media world had a field day when the information on MadBum's alias surfaced, but D-backs general manager Mike Hazen had his back.

"Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team," Hazen told media on Monday. 

Arizona pitcher Archie Bradley said that resonated with him as well.

"It's great. I personally have a lot of respect for Mike Hazen, but that was something I was actually talking to CC Sabathia yesterday," Bradley told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. "You're seeing this new wave where guys aren't afraid to showcase the other side of their life. I think there's kind of been this build of 'You just have to be a baseball player.' LeBron started with 'More Than an Athlete,' I think guys are kind of catching on."

He also loves the fact that MadBum now is on his team instead of facing him as much as he did during their NL West matchups when Bumgarner was on the Giants. MadBum has made a huge impression on the 27-year-old.

"He just raises everyone's level of awareness and preparation," Bradley said. "When you win a World Series, that holds a lot of weight, it puts your name in bold font. You know, Madison Bumgarner is a big-time name, not only because of his talent level, but because of how he competes, but how he's won."

"When you add a guy like that who is very old school and very hard-nosed, you kind of perk up a little bit."

[RELATED: MadBum's young teammates ready to see what he's about]

Bradley said MadBum, after winning multiple World Series championships, is bringing that mentality to his new team in Phoenix. 

"This is a guy that has not only done it but is vocalizing how he wants to do it here."

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Joey Bart already displayed his power with an opposite-field homer on his first swing of the spring. Sean Hjelle gave us a glimpse of his potential with a 95-mph fastball

Both Giants prospects are in big league camp this spring, while others like Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop are not. On Tuesday, however, both young center fielders joined the big squad for a game against the Chicago White Sox. 

Bishop, the Giants' first-round pick in last year's draft, believes the front office won't shy away from calling young players up if they play well for their respective team. 

"I think it's been apparent to a lot of the minor leaguers that if you perform, you'll get rewarded," Bishop said to reporters before Tuesday's game. "People are gonna say they're not gonna worry about their performance, but I think everyone that's human does. If I can just take it day by day and at-bat by at-bat, then hopefully something good will turn out." 

Farhan Zaidi has echoed the same message for quite some time now. Bart and Ramos both made it to Double-A by the end of last season, and figure to have a shot at the bigs this season. 

Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, knows San Francisco is in a bit of a rebuild right now. That doesn't mean he will shy away from bringing  young stars up to San Francisco

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said late last month on KNBR. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

Bishop, 21, played seven games in the Arizona Rookie League after the draft. He then joined the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for 25 more in Class A Short Season. Between the two levels, he hit .229 with five homers and an .867 OPS. 

With his powerful swing and keen eye at the plate, Bishop could be a quick riser in the farm system. The former ASU Sun Devil needs to cut down his strikeouts, though, and that will be a big factor for him this year and beyond. As for where he starts the season, Bishop couldn't care less. 

[RELATED: These four Giants made Keith Law's top 100 prospects list]

"For me, whatever team I'm on -- help them win," Bishop said. "That's really all I can control. I can't control where I'm gonna go or what team I'm gonna make. If I can just worry about what I can do and help the team win, that's all I'm focused on for this season." 

The Bay Area native certainly has his eyes set on San Francisco. For now, he's looking to improve in all aspects of the game and end every day with a win.