Giants

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

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AP

Derek Law looks for silver linings after disappointing end to offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a crushing loss in the NLDS three years ago, the Giants had a choice to make. They ultimately went out and spent $62 million on a closer, but back then, there were factions of the organization that preferred for the solution to come internally, with Derek Law one of a few potential options for the ninth inning. 

Law was coming off a strong rookie season and was a big part of the future at Oracle Park. Two years later, he found himself sitting at home as the rest of his teammates gathered for FanFest, where he’s usually one of the more entertaining players on the stage. Law was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for John Andreoli, who later would also be DFA’d. 

“I kind of knew nobody was going to pick me up, because if guys aren’t signing all the free agents that are really darn good, then they’re not going to take a chance on me,” he said. “It’s kind of a kick in the nuts, because 29 other teams didn’t take you.”

The roster churn has become a part of daily life in the Giants clubhouse, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take when your name gets called. Law was caught off guard a bit. He didn’t get DFA’d until Feb. 1, and by that time he already had his spring training flights booked. 

[RELATED: Breaking down Giants' camp competitions as games begin]

After he was done throwing one morning in Pittsburgh, Law saw that he had a missed call from a San Francisco area code. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley gave him the bad news.

“When it finally happens,” Law said, “You’re in a weird sort of limbo.”

The waiver process is a quiet one if you go unclaimed. Law didn’t hear anything about his future until the sixth day of the seven-day period. A day later, the Giants announced he was outrighted to Triple-A and would be in big league camp, this time as a non-roster player. Ironically, Andreoli went through the exact same transaction. 

The timing was poor in a number of ways, including the fact that Law preparing for what he felt could be a huge camp. He says this is the best he has felt physically since coming back from Tommy John rehab. After two down years, Law started throwing earlier in the offseason, and he was taking part in live BP sessions before the rest of the Giants got to Scottsdale. 

Law’s peripheral numbers were better in the second half of the 2018 minor league season after he altered his pitch mix. He even found himself excited by the addition of Farhan Zaidi. Offseason workout partner Adam Liberatore pitched under Zaidi with the Dodgers and told Law that Zaidi would find ways to play to his strengths. 

Then came the bad news, but perhaps Law can find hope in something Zaidi has said repeatedly. The new president of baseball operations believes strongly in looking at a player’s track record from a few years back, and Law, still just 28, isn’t too far removed from posting a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances as a rookie. 

[RELATED: Ray Black embracing analytics ahead of second season]

That’s the type of performance the Giants have not forgotten. 

“This is going to be big for him, how he bounces back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s always a tough deal coming off a roster. You can handle it one of two ways: You get down on yourself, or show that you deserve to be back on the roster and be up here. I think he’s got a great attitude.”

That showed the day Law walked into camp, a smile on his face as he hugged teammates. The roster move was bad timing, but Law said he won’t allow it to change the way he approaches the season. This is an organization that has sped up the pace of transactions, but that also means you can quickly be back on the positive end when you pitch well. 

“The silver lining is I’m here,” he said, “And we’ll see what happens at the end of the spring.”

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

PITTSBURGH -- Madison Bumgarner was mad at himself for digging too big a hole Friday night, and he certainly did just that. But as the Giants move past the 20-game mark, it's clear that it's another part of the team mostly digging the holes. 

The Giants are the only team in the Majors without a run in the first inning and they have scored first just six times in 21 games. When Bumgarner gave up four in the bottom of the first Friday, that was all it took. The Giants had not, of course, done any damage in the top of the inning. They would lose 4-1 on their first night with the Pirates. 

The first-inning woes have been there since the first at-bats of the season. The Giants are 6-for-66 in the first inning, and all six of the hits have been singles. They have just two walks in 21 first innings and have struck out 21 times. 

"Not scoring early again, that's making every game an uphill climb for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Friday's script was familiar. After an 85-minute rain delay, Steven Duggar opened the night by striking out. He is 3-for-17 while leading off games, with seven strikeouts. Joe Panik, who is batting .193, also struck out and Buster Posey, batting .217, grounded out to second.  

Bochy said the staff is talking about changes that can be made, but they are limited by their personnel. Kevin Pillar also brings speed, but he's batting just .167. Gerardo Parra is at .224. Up and down the lineup, there is nobody hitting, or reaching base at a rate that screams "put me up near the top of the lineup!"

"There's not a lot that you can do at this point," Bochy said. "These are our guys and you can move them a spot or two. But wherever you hit in the order, those guys have to come through. You look at the back end of (Pittsburgh's) order and they did a pretty good job in the first inning."

Bumgarner retired the first two batters he faced before walking third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who entered batting just .130. Josh Bell singled and Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run double. The exit velocity barrage continued a bit longer, and singles by Pablo Reyes and JB Shuck made it 4-0 before the rain drops on the dugout seats had even had time to dry. Bumgarner threw 38 pitches in the inning. 

"They weren't all bad pitches but a lot of them were," he said. "You've got to give those guys credit. With two outs and nobody on, to score four, that's hard to do even in batting practice."

[RELATED: Marte, Gonzalez collide violently]

The first-inning blip was the only one for Bumgarner, who has always had a good time in this park. In his next five innings he allowed just two singles and struck out six. 

But the damage had been done. It was an uphill climb, and as they've done for most of a month now, the Giants didn't approach the summit.

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

There was a really scary moment in the top of the eighth inning between the Giants and Pirates on Friday night.

Giants infielder Yangeris Solarte popped a ball up between second base. Pirates center fielder Starling Marte and shortstop Erik Gonzalez converged on the ball and collided violently in center field.

Both players stayed down for several minutes. The Pirates' trainer raced out to check on both players and had to keep switching between Marte and Gonzalez since both were in considerable pain.

[RELATED: Duggar robs Musgrove of extra bases]

Gonzalez was able to walk off on his own power, but a cart was brought out to take Marte to the clubhouse.

The Pirates have yet to release an injury update on the players, but let's hope both players didn't suffer any type of serious injury.