Giants

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, more Giants will have different look at plate

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, more Giants will have different look at plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After 10 days of watching him take batting practice and do catching drills, the Giants fully expect Buster Posey to be in the lineup on March 28 in San Diego. When he digs into the box, you'll see a different look from Posey, now in his 11th big league season. 

Posey is one of a dozen Giants wearing a batting helmet with a flap this spring. Last year, the Giants had just two players on their active roster -- Aramis Garcia and Chase d'Arnaud -- with a flap protecting the jaw. Posey said he plans to use the new helmet during the 2019 season. 

"I thought about changing last year but I didn't want to do it during the season," he said. "It's just about getting more protection."

Not surprisingly, the catchers appear to be leading the way. Garcia started wearing a helmet flap after suffering a facial fracture in 2016 while playing for the San Jose Giants. René Rivera started wearing the bigger helmet last year, not because of concussion issues -- Posey and Garcia both have had concussions behind the plate -- but because of what he was seeing from pitchers. 

"Everyone is throwing harder every year, and a lot of these guys are throwing up in the zone now," he said, mimicking a fastball that moves quickly towards a batter's head. "It's extra protection at the plate."

The catchers aren't the only ones with the new look. Pablo Sandoval had a flap on his helmet during live batting practice sessions earlier this week, along with Cameron Maybin, who wore one last year with the Marlins and Mariners. Others are expected to follow. 

The change for homegrown Giants has a lot to do with a change by Rawlings. The equipment company has a new helmet that is made to withstand a 105 mph fastball, an increase from the old helmet that withstood 100 mph. The r-flap has been redesigned and is not as bulky. 

Brad Grems, the clubhouse coordinator, said Rawlings engineers will be in the clubhouse Friday to show players their new helmets. Rawlings now has flaps that can be screwed onto the helmet in three different positions, allowing for more flexibility and comfort. Garcia said the old flap, while necessary for him, would often press against his face. 

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According to Grems, the new helmet will be a better fit for players' heads. By 2020, Rawlings plans to roll out the new, better-fitting helmet in every clubhouse. By then, you could see a lot more players protecting their jaws with a helmet flap.

Barry Bonds likely will fall short of 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class

Barry Bonds likely will fall short of 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class

When he had a bat in his hands, Barry Bonds had more control over a game than just about anyone in the history of the sport. But Bonds can do nothing but watch these days, and on Tuesday afternoon, he'll once again be disappointed by the end result. 

Bonds is tracking well below the 75 percent needed for induction in the Hall of Fame, and when results are announced this afternoon, he'll be left with just two more chances at induction.

According to Ryan Thibodaux, who closely tracks the vote every offseason, Bonds has been listed on 71.3 percent of ballots that have been made public. He traditionally takes a significant hit when non-public ballots are added to the mix. The 2020 Hall of Fame class will be announced at approximately 3:15 p.m. PT on MLB Network. 

This year's class should be a small one, and it's possible that only Derek Jeter has his named called. Jeter has been listed on every ballot thus far and has a chance to join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous selections in MLB history. 

Larry Walker, in his final year on the ballot, is currently at 83.3 percent. Curt Schilling also is currently in position to get inducted (77.8 percent) but he is expected to drop off when all votes are counted. Walker could end up being one of the tightest decisions in HOF voting history. 

Bonds might get that "final year" bump in 2022, but thus far he has not gotten particularly close to induction. He got up to 59.1 percent last year, but the steroid cloud has kept him off too many ballots to even make the annual January announcement day remotely dramatic. 

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Bonds, a seven-time MVP who is the sport's all-time leader in home runs, will be on the ballot two more times, and a couple of his former teammates garnered enough support that they will remain on the ballot. Omar Vizquel currently is at 49.1 percent and Jeff Kent is tracking at 32.9 percent.

Former A's Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez are among those who will fail to get the five percent required to stay on the ballot another year. 

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

MLB rumors: Jerry Blevins signs minor league contract with Giants

The Giants signed veteran left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins to a minor league contract, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday night, citing a source.

The deal includes an invitation to major league camp, Rosenthal reported.

Blevins responded to Rosenthal's tweet, all but confirming the news.

Blevins has pitched parts of 13 seasons with four different teams. He's spent time with the A's, Washington Nationals, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.

Last season with Atlanta, the 36-year-old posted a 3.90 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32.1 innings over 45 appearances.

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Blevins appears to be another low-risk, high-reward signing by the Giants' front office. If he makes the team out of spring training and shows he has value, he could be a prime trade candidate ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

If Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris can turn Blevins into a future asset, this will look like another stealthy move.