Giants

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

Giants sign No. 2 pick Joey Bart to largest upfront bonus ever for position player

Giants sign No. 2 pick Joey Bart to largest upfront bonus ever for position player

SAN FRANCISCO — After he visited AT&T Park for a pre-draft workout, Joey Bart said the cool weather made him feel like he could take swings all day. He’ll be back there on Monday. 

Bart was one of 32 Giants draft picks to sign, the team announced Sunday. The No. 2 overall selection in the draft will get a signing bonus of $7.025 million, per Jim Callis of MLB.com, which is the largest upfront bonus ever for a position player. 

Bart, the highest Giants draft pick since Will Clark in 1985, led the ACC in batting average last season (.359) and hit 16 homers. He posted a .471 on-base percentage and slugged .632. Bart has been working out at the team facility in Arizona but will be introduced at AT&T Park before Monday’s game. 

In addition to Bart, the Giants signed the rest of their top 16 selections and 23 of their first 25. 

Bumgarner looks sharper, but Giants once again go down quietly at Dodger Stadium

Bumgarner looks sharper, but Giants once again go down quietly at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES — We’ll start with the positive, because the alternative is so stunning that you almost need to build up to it. 

Madison Bumgarner had his pitch count removed in his third start back and responded by throwing 112 pitches, and showing signs of his old self. Bumgarner took the loss in a 3-1 clunker at Dodger Stadium, but all involved felt he took a big step forward in his six innings.

“Each time out I’ve felt better and better,” Bumgarner said. “That’s the only think you can ask for. I don’t know how long (until I’m in midseason form) but I’ll try to get there as fast as I can.”

Catcher Buster Posey said Bumgarner’s fastball was “jumping” more than in his previous two starts.

“He’s only going to get stronger as he goes on,” Posey said. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner is already plenty strong.

“I thought it was a good day for him,” he said. “Everything was crisper. He’s getting real close … [T]onight was real close to Madison and where he’s going to be.”

As for the rest of this one, well the production wasn’t close to enough. Bumgarner gave up a solo homer to Matt Kemp and a two-run shot to Enrique Hernandez and that easily held up. The Giants had no hits through four, wasted a golden opportunity in the seventh, and couldn’t take advantage of a wild Kenley Jansen in the ninth. 

Here’s the stunning negative. In their last 11 games at Dodger Stadium, their run totals are: 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 2, 1.

Asked to explain that amazing stretch of futility here, Posey paused for a long moment and then said he had no explanation. Bochy noted that the Dodgers play excellent defense — Posey was robbed of two hits by outfielders Saturday — and pitch well.

“It’s their pitching,” he said. “They have really good pitching. You saw a well-pitched game (tonight) and a guy who has been throwing the ball well yesterday. They’re a team that has really good pitching and really this isn’t a ballpark conducive to scoring lots of runs.”

All that said, going 11 consecutive games in a park without even reaching three runs is amazing, no matter who you are facing. For a while Saturday, it looked like Bumgarner might pull it out anyway. But Hernandez jumped on a hanging curveball in his third at-bat and hit his fourth career homer against Bumgarner. 

The lefty was well aware of the numbers — Hernandez is 15-for-33 off him — and said he has changed his approach in recent matchups. After Hernandez repeatedly pounded his fastball, he saw a steady diet of curveballs. Seven of the eight pitches he saw the first two times up Saturday were curveballs. The eighth curveball was the difference. 

“It’s no secret that I’ve thrown Hernandez a ton of curveballs the last few times and he made the adjustment,” Bumgarner said. “It wasn’t the best spot, either. He for sure made the adjustment. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap. That’s the cat and mouse game, the game within the game.”