Giants

Bumgarner on the DL is the biggest of gut punches for Giants

Bumgarner on the DL is the biggest of gut punches for Giants

Giants fans will never look at a Madison Bumgarner truck ad again without having a violent twitch. After all, now that he’s been beaten up by a dirt bike, who knows what nefarious danger he’s courting in an actual pickup?

Bumgarner, the heart, soul, spleen and pancreas of the San Francisco rotation, is going to miss the next six to eight weeks (the neighborhood of a third of the season) after a dirt bike accident that resulted in a sprained left shoulder and bruised ribs and got him shipped to the disabled list.

In other words, he screwed with the moneymaker, and now the company is locked in a duel with their own worst thoughts.

This should logically take most Giants aficionados, including supervisors and employees, back to that fun-filled evening in 2011 when Buster Posey got trucked by Scott Cousins in a home-plate collision. Or, more distantly, Jeff Kent’s famous O’Rielly Auto Parts loofa injury of 15 years ago.

In fact, if you toss in Posey getting beaned earlier this year, some fans – typically those who believed that even years are somehow magic for them simply by virtue of being divisible by two – will doubtless conclude that the Giants are beset with season-destroying juju that makes low run support seem like skin lotion on an ashy elbow.

Of course, what we’ve done here is taken an internal combustion-related injury, merged it with a heart-of-the-franchise injury and come up with Bumgarner zigging on a dirt bike when sagging was clearly indicated. In fact, the three are unrelated, as anyone with a working knowledge of time and causation/correlation would understand.

But the immediate effect is that the Giants now have a gaping hole in the starting rotation, the thing that was supposed to indemnify him from the roster’s other holes. The team’s working plan, to hold Ty Blach is reserve until it gets a better sense of Matt Cain’s value, is now in shreds, and general manager Bobby Evans now gets to know exactly what Brian Sabean felt in 2011, and what he came close to feeling in 2002.

In other words, now Evans gets to know why general managers drink.

Now there may be more story here, as there was with the Kent cover tale in ’02. Or it may be as simple as Posey’s story in ’11, which couldn’t really be embellished much since it happened under high-visibility lighting.

Either way, the good news here is that if Bumgarner was going to hurt himself, 16 games into the season beats 106 games into the season. Unless the shoulder is damaged significantly (and there’s no need to get out over your medical skis until you need to, kids), the Giants will have time to minimize whatever damage there is to their year. In other words, if eight weeks turns to 12, this is a body blow to a team withgout a lot of margin for body blows.

And maybe Bumgarner, chastened by this incident, will give up any future plans for punching out a cow, wrestling a bear or juggling tractor motors to a medley of Blake Shelton songs.

That’s the good news, as we say. The bad news . . . well, you know that one. So does Buster Posey. We need not get into greater detail.

Yet.

Giants trade minor league infielder for veteran catcher Erik Kratz

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USATSI

Giants trade minor league infielder for veteran catcher Erik Kratz

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after they made a seemingly endless series of transactions, the Giants got going with an early morning trade. 

Catcher Erik Kratz was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, with minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa headed the other way. The deal was made a day after the Giants released Rene Rivera, a similar veteran who appeared in line for an Opening Day job. 

When Rivera was let go, Aramis Garcia looked to be in line for the backup job. But Kratz is a right-handed-hitting veteran who is out of options, so the Giants may keep him instead. Kratz, 38, will be playing for his eighth big league team. He hit .236 for the Brewers last year with six homers and six doubles in 203 at-bats. 

Kratz was a surprise contributor in the postseason, hitting .292 in 26 plate appearances. He is known for doing good work defensively and is a strong clubhouse presence. 

It's unclear why the Giants elected to go with Kratz over Rivera, who worked with their pitchers all camp. Or why they may be shying away from sticking with Garcia, who had a good spring and also knows the pitching staff well. Those questions will be answered in the next four days, and the Giants figure to make many more moves before the dust settles. 

[RELATED: Giants trade Matt Joyce after three days with team]

Hinojosa was once viewed as a future utility man at the big league level, but he was suspended 50 games last season for a positive test for a drug of abuse. When he returned, he posted a .689 OPS. 

To clear a 40-man spot for Kratz, the Giants DFA'd pitcher Jose Lopez, acquired at the start of the spring from the Reds. 

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Connor Joe has been working to get to the big leagues.

It appears the San Diego native will finally get that shot. A trade from the Reds to the Giants may have smashed open the door for Joe.

"It was exciting," Joe told KNBR 680 on Saturday when asked what his initial reaction was to the trade. "I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back with a team on the West Coast ... that's closer to home is an amazing opportunity for me."

Joe attended Poway High School in San Diego, and then went to the University of San Diego. The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 39 overall draft pick on Joe in 2014 and then traded him to Atlanta in August of 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. A month later, the Braves shipped him to the Dodgers. This past December, the Reds claimed Joe in the Rule 5 draft.

Then the trade to the Giants happened on Thursday.

Joe knows San Francisco well. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Joe made plenty of trips to the Bay Area to face the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara. He told KNBR's Marty Lurie that his sister lives in San Francisco, and that he traveled up state with his dad for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.

"It's a great city, I love it," Joe said. "It's a little different speed than I'm used to in San Diego, but I'm really excited to be there and really excited for this opportunity."

The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. After hitting just 11 home runs his first three minor league seasons, Joe crushed 17 home runs last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, and finished the year with a .299/.408/.527 slash line.

What led to the improved play?

"For me, I think the biggest thing was allowing my athletic abilities to come out and not being trapped in a certain way that people wanted me to be," Joe said. "So, I told myself to be athletic in the box, out in the field and saw really positive results from that."

One of the aspects that made Joe attractive to the Giants is his versatility. He has experience at first base, third base, left field and right field. But he doesn't have a preferred position.

"I can't tell you what I am," Joe said. "I'm a baseball player. It's something I've done throughout my career, starting in college, so I'm used to bouncing around from game to game, even inning to inning."

Things can change in a hurry, but considering that the Giants acquired him a week before Opening Day, it's safe to say they envision him on the roster.

[RELATED: Giants reportedly acquire Michael Reed]

Guess where the Giants open the 2019 season? Yep. San Diego.

Imagine if Joe is able to make his major league debut in his hometown in front of his family. What a story that would be.