Giants

Bryce Harper explains hitting at Oracle Park wasn't a factor in decision

Bryce Harper explains hitting at Oracle Park wasn't a factor in decision

When it was first reported the Giants were interested in acquiring six-time All-Star Bryce Harper, we checked the numbers on how he performed at AT&T Oracle Park.

Across his career thus far, Harper boasts a .164/.305/.284 line with just two home runs in 19 games.

Not great, but he knew that. It's also well documented that Oracle Park is one of the toughest places to hit in all of baseball.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal recently asked Harper if the difference in parks offensively was an issue. Harper said that wasn't a concern -- he did the homework just like you and I did.

“I saw my (home-run) overlays on each park — Nationals Park, L.A., San Fran, Philly. The overlays weren’t as crazy as people would think," Harper said in an interview with FS1.

“Hitting the ball to left-center in San Francisco, it’s a little bit of a jet stream. And I hit my balls to left-center a lot. Of course, you factor in wind and cold weather, things like that. But that was never really a factor."

Oracle Park is a terror to hitters not named Nolan Arenado or Gerardo Parra. but it can be a pitcher's best friend if said pitcher is able to take advantage of that.

But Harper seemed to indicate he would have enjoyed the challenges of playing in a pitcher's park, even telling Rosenthal it would make him a more refined hitter.

“I’m not scared of ballparks. It was kind of like, ‘If I go into San Fran, it will make me a better hitter because I’ll have to stay on the ball.’ You have Triples Alley to right. But if I stay on the ball and hit the ball to left, then pull homers to right, the line drives to left would have played. So ballpark-wise, it wasn’t that big of a decision to me.”

[RELATED: Giants offer Harper 12-year, $310 million]

We will see if that confidence still resonates with him when he and the Phillies come to Oracle Park later this summer

Pablo Sandoval reacts to Giants not inviting Aubrey Huff to reunion

Pablo Sandoval reacts to Giants not inviting Aubrey Huff to reunion

When Pablo Sandoval pinch-hit for reliever Sam Coonrod in an 8-4 Giants loss against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 1, it seemed like it could be his last at-bat in front of the home fans at Oracle Park. Sandoval was set to undergo Tommy John surgery and entered the offseason as a free agent. 

But Sandoval is back with San Francisco after he signed a minor league contract with the Giants in late January. His former teammate, Aubrey Huff, will not be back at Oracle Park later this season. 

The Giants on Monday announced they have told Huff, the Giants' starting first baseman in 2010, that he is not welcome at the ballpark when they celebrate their 2010 World Series title. 

"Earlier this month, we reached out to Aubrey Huff to let him know that he will not be included in the upcoming 2010 World Series Championship reunion," the organization said Monday in a statement. "Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization. While we appreciate the many contributions that Aubrey made to the 2010 championship season, we stand by our decision."

Sandoval reacted to the Giants' decision on Tuesday, and told the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman that he "won't be sad" that Huff won't be at the World Series reunion.

Huff and Sandoval were teammates for three years from 2010 to 2012 and won two championships together. Huff hit .294 with one homer in the 2010 World Series, while Sandoval was named World Series MVP in 2012. 

[RELATED: Sandoval far ahead of schedule in his Tommy John rehab]

The Giants plan to celebrate the 2010 team on Aug. 16 during a game against the Colorado Rockies and will give out replica rings to the fans in attendance.

Huff has not been around the ballpark much since retiring after the 2012 season, but he came back to San Francisco in September for Bruce Bochy's final game as the Giants' manager. 

How Hunter Pence returned home to Giants after one season with Rangers

How Hunter Pence returned home to Giants after one season with Rangers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With the full squad finally in place and the construction around the ballpark nearing its conclusion, the Giants finally opened the gates of Scottsdale Stadium to fans on Monday. There was a long line out front at 10 a.m., but with the exception of a playlist heavy on 90s rap, it was pretty quiet on the main field for most of the morning. 

But then Hunter Pence emerged from the cage beyond the right field wall, and fans down the line started to rise and welcome him back to the organization. The applause continued all the way to the plate, and Pence delighted the fans by hitting a high homer to left to kick off his first round of batting practice. 

It's 2020, and for all the change around the organization, there's still one thing the Giants can count on. Hunter Pence, now 36, remains wildly popular. 

"It's great to be back, that's for sure," Pence said upon checking into camp Sunday. "It was a quick process, it popped up late. Everything worked together, and I had some good conversations with Farhan and with Kapler. It was really exciting. 

"Obviously this is a home. I have a lot of history, a lot of friends, a lot of family here. The city feels like we have a great relationship -- I love it so much and I love the fan base."

Pence said the wooing process only started about three weeks before the Giants announced a one-year agreement in the hours before FanFest. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but Pence never gave up on returning to San Francisco. It felt like the Giants were giving him a grand sendoff in 2017, when he rode a custom scooter around the park and gave an emotional speech, but Pence never viewed it that way.

He quietly informed the front office that he would be interested in a reunion after he made some offseason swing changes, but the Giants preferred a different direction. 

Pence went back to Texas, hit .297 with 18 homers for the Rangers, made the All-Star team, and somehow became exactly what his old team was looking for in the weeks before spring training. Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and Gabe Kapler knew they needed more help against left-handed pitching, and Pence thumped southpaws last year. 

"Hunter had tangible swing changes that led to an excellent year with the Rangers," Kapler said. "Against left-handed pitching, he was even better. We're going to need to find ways to keep Hunter fresh and healthy and productive, and one of those ways is going to be mixing and matching. Go get the best matchup, but also give Hunter as many opportunities against left-handed pitching as possible while giving him the opportunity to earn more."

Kapler declined to elaborate this early about just how much playing time Pence is expected to get, pointing out that the spring competition is just beginning. For his part, Pence seems willing to take on a new role. He once started 331 consecutive games for Bruce Bochy, a streak that was perhaps counterproductive at times, but the best the Giants may be able to do this year is put him in a left field platoon with Alex Dickerson. 

"I have to put on a new hat," Pence said. "As you grow older and shift into roles, I'm open to putting on whatever hat it takes to help us accomplish being the best team we can."

It's clear the Giants at least checked off enough playing time boxes for Pence that it wasn't a hard decision to return to an organization that's now rebuilding. The San Diego Padres came with late interest and Pence also had an opportunity to go to camp with the Houston Astros, who play in Pence's current hometown, a place where he has opened up a coffee-and-gaming shop that's his hangout spot much of the offseason.

[RELATED: Kapler shares short message to Giants' full spring squad]

But he chose to return to San Francisco, the city where he not only won two titles, but also met and married his wife, Alexis. 

"We definitely had other opportunities and (Houston is) a city that we do live in, but I've only played with one of the players over there," Pence said. "Things just lined up. It makes a lot of sense for me to be here, we're happy to be here. We're thankful for every opportunity that was out there, but we're really happy to be home."