Giants

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a poorly-kept secret as Bruce Bochy marched toward his final game as manager of the Giants: Bochy was going to manage again in 2020. This week, it became official. 

The France Baseball Association announced that Bochy will manage Team France in the World Baseball Classic qualifier taking place in Tucson, Arizona from March 22-27. France will be competing with Germany, Spain and others to get a spot in the 2021 WBC.

Bochy had met with the association during the summer but had to iron out some details after the season. 

Didier Seminet, the president of the French federation, said he was "proud to announce Bruce Bochy" as manager and noted that Bochy, born in Landes de Bussac, has a "special relationship" with the country. 

"We are very honored and excited that he wishes to seize this opportunity to help the development of French baseball," Seminet said in a statement. 

This is something Bochy has been looking forward to, and he recently said that he's excited about making it a family affair. His brother, Joe, will be on the coaching staff.

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Brett Bochy, a former Giants prospect who pitched for his father at the big league level, will be on the pitching staff. When Brett visited Oracle Park for his father's final series as manager, he said he already was working out in preparation for returning to the mound.

Ron Wotus, a third base coach for Gabe Kapler next season, is also expected to be on the staff

Farhan Zaidi explains why Marco Luciano would be 'a consideration' for Giants roster

Farhan Zaidi explains why Marco Luciano would be 'a consideration' for Giants roster

On his first day in charge at Oracle Park, Farhan Zaidi said he wanted to try and walk a tightrope in 2019. He talked of building for the future, finding members of the next great Giants team, but also being competitive as deep into the year as possible. 

In Year 2, the Giants hoped to take that same approach, and that could lead to some fascinating decisions if they're tasked with putting a 50-man roster together over the next couple of months. 

The expectation is that MLB teams -- if the sport returns in July -- will have 30-man rosters with taxi squads that might go 20 deep. Should the Giants go all-in on an 82-game season or pull back and fill that taxi squad with top prospects who won't have anywhere else to play with the minor league season surely getting canceled?

"I think it's going to lend to some really interesting decisions," Zaidi said on KNBR on Thursday night. "Your prospects that have been in Double-A and Triple-A, those are kind of no-brainers because you're getting the benefit of Major League depth and some developmental reps. But you are going to have some guys that aren't in any real scenario going to play for you in 2020, but the alternative is them just not getting any competitive reps over the summer. That seems like a really costly thing for your top, top guys."

The Giants have more of those guys than they did a couple years ago, and they seem to be pretty set on some of them. If you're talking about top prospects at the top two levels being "no-brainers," you're adding Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Sean Hjelle to that taxi squad, at the very least. 

It gets more interesting at lower levels, though. Left-hander Seth Corry and outfielder Hunter Bishop are notable top prospects who probably would have spent most of this season in High-A San Jose. Then there's Marco Luciano, the top Giants prospect on a lot of evaluator's lists. He's only 18 and has just 179 at-bats in rookie ball under his belt, but he's also a potential game-changer for the organization. 

Luciano has the highest ceiling of any current Giants prospect, and it would be a blow to lose a year or even a few additional months of development. There's some thought within the game that the Arizona Fall League will be expanded or other minor league games will be added later in the year, and the Giants certainly could send Luciano there and have him also play Winter Ball. But they also are considering keeping him on the taxi squad and letting him work out every day with much more experienced players and coaches. 

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"With someone like Luciano it is going to be a consideration," Zaidi said. "Do you bring him in, let him be in that environment, get competitive reps and understand that you're kind of burning a spot that could otherwise go to Major League depth? It's going to be an interesting decision. 

"Every organization is going to face decisions like that, but obviously we have an eye to the future. We've got some really exciting players that are still a couple of years away and it's going to lend itself to some tough decisions for us once we start rounding out camps."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

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The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]