Giants again looking for left field answer with Mac Williamson slumping


Giants again looking for left field answer with Mac Williamson slumping

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson has spent much of his time the last two days talking to Giants teammates who have been through this. He has gone over his swing with hitting coaches Alonzo Powell and Rick Schu. He sent videos of his swing to Doug Latta, his personal hitting coach, to see if the specialist could see anything that's drastically wrong.

Williamson, who is barely keeping afloat in his last real shot with the Giants, is using any source he can to try and find a fix. At the end of a long session with reporters Thursday, he smiled and nodded towards the visiting clubhouse. 

"Maybe I can go talk to (Austin) Riley a little bit," he said. 

It was a joke, and the Braves won't be at Oracle Park when the Giants return Friday, anyway. After the worst game of his career, it's unclear if Williamson will be there. 

The left fielder struck out five times in a 5-4 loss to the Braves and all five came with a runner on base. Williamson is just the fifth Giant to whiff five times in a game, and the timing couldn't be worse. He entered the day batting .143 in what has become an extended audition for the left field job. 

What's next? Manager Bruce Bochy didn't give definitive answers. 

"I don't know," Bochy said when asked about Williamson. "We'll talk about it. It was a rough day for Mac. I know he's probably pressing -- I can't say probably. That's a tough day there. So anyway, we'll huddle up and see what we can do to add some offense here."

Williamson has gotten 47 at-bats since getting called up to try to win the job, but he's batting just .128 with a .439 OPS. Asked a second time about the 28-year-old, Bochy said, "We've got to get some production from left field. There's no getting around that."

This season has at times been about more than that. More than anything, the Giants are trying to find future contributors, so 47 at-bats may be viewed as too small a sample by the new front office. Mike Gerber and Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski are ready for their shot in Triple-A, but the Giants have not seemed all that ready in recent days to pull the plug on Williamson's run. 

Thursday may have changed that, though. It was a game that left Williamson wondering where his timing has gone. He fouled off 13 pitches in six plate appearances, including nine fastballs.  

"It's about being on time more consistently," Williamson said. "I've been getting pitched interestingly. It's difficult because when you're in Triple-A you don't have the quality of arms you do here. Down there you see a lot of breaking pitches and off-speed pitches. Up here a lot of these guys are running it up to 96, 97. I'm just not on time with the fastball."

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That's the foundation for any hitter, and Williamson will continue to try to find the fix before time runs out. He said that in the past, when slumping, he has taken a step back and tried not to do as much pre-game work, but then he noted it would be disingenuous to his teammates to do the same at the big league level. 

So Williamson has come to the park early, taken extra swings, watched additional film and talked to as many teammates as he can. 

"That's the frustrating part for me," he said. "I'm not taking it for granted."

Recap of retirement gifts Giants' Bruce Bochy received on farewell tour

Recap of retirement gifts Giants' Bruce Bochy received on farewell tour

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point next week, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will begin the process of packing up his office of 13 years. The hard part is done. Bullwinkle, a gigantic stuffed elk head that hung in his office for most of this decade, is now living in a local bar.

But Bochy still has plenty to pack, especially after a season-long farewell tour. It's been emotional at times, filled with tributes from longtime friends and touching videos from longtime opponents. It also has been lucrative for a man who loves wine and will officially be off the clock next Monday.  

Perhaps the first sip will come from a bottle Bob Melvin presented during a ceremony in August. Or the one that was left in his office in Atlanta by a visitor who wanted to say thanks. Maybe the first drink will come from the bottle of bourbon Alex Cora sent over last week, or the Sagamore Spirit Rye the Orioles gave Bochy early on. 

There will be plenty of time to get through it all, and plenty of fond memories. Here's a rundown of some of the highlights from the farewell tour: 

--- Reds: The first team to acknowledge Bochy with a pre-game tribute, they hosted the Giants in early May and had David Bell present custom wine glasses, a carafe and a custom bourbon ice chest from a local company. 

--- Orioles: This one stood out a bit and deserves to be remembered simply because the NL team in the region, the Nationals, didn't even acknowledge Bochy's retirement -- no gift, no video, not even an announcement to fans. Perhaps they're still bitter about Jordan Zimmermann. 

When the Giants came back to the area a few weeks later to face the Orioles, a team they rarely see, Brandon Hyde met Bochy and presented the rye and engraved glasses. Hyde is from Santa Rosa. 

"He's somebody I truly admire," Hyde said. "He's a Hall-of-Fame level manager that has done a lot of great things in this game. Really cool to be on the same field as him, and I think he appreciated it. It's the least we could do."

--- Padres: Bochy's former (and future?) employer pulled out all the stops. There was a pregame ceremony led by Padres chairman Ron Fowler and former players Steve Finley, Carlos Hernandez, Mark Sweeney and Andy Ashby and they gave Bochy fishing poles, a custom bottle of wine and a frame full of photos from his time in San Diego. 

The Padres also played an excellent tribute video:

"I appreciate that, I really do," Bochy said. "It's not what I was looking for in my last year but it means something to me."

--- Marlins: Sergio Romo, later traded to the Twins, visited the clubhouse when the Giants were in Miami and gave Bochy a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila

"I gave him a token of appreciation for the faith and trust that he had in me for all those years," Romo told "I feel I can count the amount of people that have taken a chance on me in my life on two hands, and he's on that. He's one of those fingers."

Bochy also met privately with Derek Jeter, the Marlins' CEO, and it's said that Jeter presented a nice gift. 

--- Diamondbacks and Rockies: The NL West opponents see Bochy for six series a year, and they clearly got to know him well. Both gave Bochy a chance to do something he loves. 

The Rockies presented a weekend retreat at a Colorado ranch and also gave Bochy the "SF" from their scoreboard. The Diamondbacks gave him an all-expenses-paid trip to Montana to go fly fishing. 

--- Cubs: Team president Theo Epstein, who worked with Bochy in San Diego, joioned Joe Maddon and bench coach Mark Loretta to hand Bochy the No. 15 tile from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field. 

--- Red Sox: They brought a large group out onto the field, including manager Alex Cora, former big league managers Tony La Russa and Ron Roenicke, and executives Brian O'Halloran and Mike Rikard, both of whom worked with Bochy in San Diego. The Red Sox gave him a chair from Fenway that celebrated win No. 2,000:

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--- Dodgers: The rivals might have had the best tribute of all. After all, they so respected Bochy that they were willing to show highlights of the Giants winning the World Series: 

Vin Scully narrated a video and Dave Roberts presented Bochy with a signed jersey from Sandy Koufax, one of his favorite players when he was growing up in Florida. Bochy was extremely touched by the whole presentation, but politely declined when Roberts asked him to take the microphone and say a few words to a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium.

"I was afraid lightning would hit me," Bochy said later, smiling. "There's a Giant talking to a Dodger crowd, there's no way I'm not going to get hit here."

Larry Baer talks Madison Bumgarner free agency, possible Giants moves


Larry Baer talks Madison Bumgarner free agency, possible Giants moves

The Giants have marked Sept. 29 on their calendars for a while now. 

The date marks manager Bruce Bochy's last in a Giants uniform. And the same could be said for longtime team ace Madison Bumgarner. 

Bumgarner, who turns 31 years old next August, is set to hit the free-agent market this offseason. Before then, though, he will have one final start with Bochy on Sunday against the Dodgers in San Francisco. It very well could be his last with the team he has been with for over a decade. 

Or the Giants could hand Bumgarner a hefty contract and keep him in San Francisco. 

"I think Farhan [Zaidi] has had ongoing discussions with his representatives throughout the 2019 season," Giants CEO Larry Baer said to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman. "I don’t want to get into what is or isn’t being discussed, but I know they’ve kept open lines of communication." 

Bumgarner is expected to be one of the top arms available in free agency at the end of the season. His ERA is up to 3.86 this season, but he's back to his ways of being a workhorse and has thrown 200 innings for the first time since 2016, his last All-Star season. 

If the Giants don't re-sign Bumgarner, they could look to an arm that is about to be worth a whole lot of money. Right-hander Gerrit Cole, who recently turned 29 years old, likely will get the largest contract on the open market before next season. Many believe Cole's super-agent Scott Boras will be fetching a contract worth at least $200 million. 

Will the Giants spend big money on someone like Cole this offseason? 

"It’s not so much, ‘Hey, do you have the money for Player X or the money for Player Y?’ Or, ‘How much does ownership want to spend?’ It’s more how does Farhan and the staff want to bake the cake?" Baer said to Schulman. "The way he’s been successful baking the cake is doing a lot from within, making strategic moves when they make sense.

"[Clayton] Kershaw got re-upped when he was very much part of the Dodgers. That was a top-of-the-market contract. It’s not being averse to spending money, but how do you really want to put the whole thing together?" 

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Cole is 18-5 with a 2.61 ERA and has 302 strikeouts in 200 1/3 innings pitched this season for the Astros. Zaidi never has been one to sign a player to a mega-contract, but Zaidi and the Giants did meet extensively with Boras this last offseason and offered his client Bryce Harper a $310 million contract.

The Giants were built on having at least one staff ace during their dynasty. Will Zaidi follow the same model and make sure Bumgarner or Cole are wearing orange and black next season?