Giants

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Monday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Cain's Perfect Game vs Winning 2010 NL Pennant

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AP

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Cain's Perfect Game vs Winning 2010 NL Pennant

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Giants Pregame Live at 3pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Mets conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on.

1. Matt Cain's Perfect Game in 2012 (15-time winner -- Defeated Giants win 2012 NL Pennant against Cardinals in rain-soaked Game 7)

(From Matt Cain - Giants Pitcher, 2005-2017)

The Perfect Game was one of the most memorable nights of my playing career. 

I had always dreamed of throwing a no-hitter. I had come so close so many times throughout my career and in my younger years, but never had one. 

The ballpark was so electric that night. We had the TaylorMade guys out hitting golf balls. Dustin Johnson hitting monster drives into McCovey Cove, and I snuck one good swing in there as well. 

Pretty surreal day. I still think back to all the plays and pitches during that game. To have every single player on the same wave length and all realizing what was unfolding is truly something special. Everyone likes to say I pitched a perfect game and I get the credit for it but I’m in debt to everyone of the guys who made a play behind me , one that still doesn’t make sense in right center field, and I owe the most to the guy who called 125 perfect pitches behind the plate. 

Thanks to all the fans that have come up to me and shared there story about that night. So fun to hear them all!!

VS.

2. Giants win 2010 National League Pennant

(From former Giants outfielder and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Andres Torres)

If you ask me what was harder...winning the World Series against Texas or beating Philly in the NLCS...it was beating Philly. They had a great lineup and pitching staff and those fans there...they're no joke. Fans yelling at you all the time. It wasn't easy to play against them when they were at home.

Juan Uribe was really good...he had that stance...that power...he used to hit with a weight on his bat...he's really strong...great hitter. When he hit that home run...we were going crazy...really pumped. Cody Ross was also great that series. Two home runs off Roy Halladay.

I was so excited, we were going to the World Series and we were going to win. Think about beating Philly with that lineup and that pitching staff was no joke either. We were built like a great like a great company and everbody coming into the clubhouse, we made them feel comfortable, when new guys came in we made them feel welcome and comfortable and we had fun. That's how the Giants are, and when we beat Philly...I thought we had already won the World Series because we believed in each other.

VOTE HERE:

MLB rumors: Giants place Andrew McCutchen on revocable waivers

MLB rumors: Giants place Andrew McCutchen on revocable waivers

NEW YORK — The Giants did not sell at the trade deadline, preferring to give a .500 roster a few more weeks to try and climb into the race. It appears the weekend in Cincinnati finally led to some decisions from the front office. 

According to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the Giants have placed Andrew McCutchen on revocable waivers, potentially clearing the way for a trade over the coming days. McCutchen is only owed about $3 million at this point and could be a fit for a contending team looking for outfield help down the stretch. If McCutchen is claimed, the Giants will have little leverage in negotiations, but they should be able to salvage a prospect or two in exchange for a player who will be a free agent at the end of the season. 

The interest in McCutchen at the deadline wasn’t enough to have the Giants seriously consider a deal, but his numbers have ticked up a bit in the second half. Trading McCutchen would serve multiple purposes. The veteran could potentially find himself in a playoff race, in search of his first ring. For the Giants, a deal would clear salary space and get them further from the tax line, and potentially allow for more September call-ups. It also would clear playing time in the outfield, allowing Austin Slater to play every day, or Chris Shaw to get an audition over the final month. 

The Giants have avoided any talk of putting up the white flag, but they were swept over the weekend in Cincinnati and have not had the road trip they had hoped. They won 2-1 Tuesday, but still will face Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom in this series.