Giants

Giants confident massive new scoreboard will be ready for Opening Day

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Alex Pavlovic

Giants confident massive new scoreboard will be ready for Opening Day

SAN FRANCISCO -- When members of the local media were let into Oracle Park on Friday to see upgrades, it was easy to be concerned about the scoreboard. The new version appears nowhere close to done, but the Giants are quickly making progress, and in the few minutes it took three team executives to brief the media on the ballpark, one percent of the scoreboard panels got completed. 

Bill Schlough, the team's Chief Information Officer, said there are no concerns about Opening Day. The $10 million Diamond Vision board will be fully operational by April 5, when the team returns home to host the Tampa Bay Rays. Schlough said the scoreboard will be more than two-thirds finished by Monday's exhibition game against the A's, and since the Giants have been testing it as they install rows, they will be able to use the completed portion Monday. 

Even that will represent a significant upgrade. The new scoreboard will be the first 4K version in the majors, and will be 153 feet wide and 70 feet high. It is more than three times the size of the previous one, with twice the resolution. 

Here are some other new things you'll see during the 2019 season ... 

--- There are two new high-profile gathering areas at the ballpark, The Cloud Club and The Waterfront. The Cloud Club is a lounge that replaced six existing suites on the suite level and features a bar, lounge seating and different views of the ballpark and bay. The Waterfront takes over for the last few rows of bleachers under the scoreboard, and has a premium bar with a great view of the bay. It will be completed after the other additions because the Giants can't really work on it while the scoreboard is being installed. 

The Field Club behind home plate was also fully remodeled. This is all the first step in a five-year plan to improve the park.  

--- The Oracle Park signage is up already.

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--- On Opening Day, the Giants will start a season-long celebration of manager Bruce Bochy. They also will pay tribute to Hank Greenwald, Frank Robinson, Peter Magowan and Willie McCovey, all of whom passed away during the offseason. There will be a No. 44 patch on the jerseys, along with one honoring Magowan. 

The team also will honor first responders to the California wildfires. 

--- The Giants already have sold $2.1 million in tickets. They reduced their season ticket base from 30,500 to 26,000, which is still the second-highest in the majors. This was presented as something that will be beneficial to current season ticket holders looking to sell individual game tickets, but there's no hiding the fact that the team simply has lost a lot of season ticket holders over the previous two seasons. At one point, there was a long waiting list to get a season ticket.

If the season goes the way the last two did, expect some announced crowds under 30,000. That season ticket base always set a high baseline. 

--- This was announced previously, but the ballpark will exclusively take mobile tickets this season. You can no longer print them out at home, although the Giants will print them for you if you want to do that once you're at Third and King. 

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--- On to the important stuff: The Giants will hand out Kruk and Kuip gnomes and a Let Pablo Pitch bobblehead.

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Also, the Bruce Bochy giveaway on Game of Thrones Night (May 20) is the best thing they've handed out in a long, long time.

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Giants, Madison Bumgarner's camp talking with Dodgers rumor swirling

Giants, Madison Bumgarner's camp talking with Dodgers rumor swirling

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sure they're the ones talking to agents in suites, discussing blockbuster trades, and spending millions on players, but at points of the MLB Winter Meetings, Giants executives are just like their fans. 

That was the case Tuesday night, when Gerrit Cole reportedly agreed a record contract and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic immediately reported that the Dodgers, a finalist for Cole, would turn their attention to Madison Bumgarner. Rosenthal's tweet instantly caught the attention of officials in the team's suite and some who were wandering the lobby. Those who had already left for dinner discussed the news after ordering their wine. 

The report startled the fan base. It did not shake the front office. You won't find many people who work for the team who are confident that Bumgarner will be pitching in San Francisco next season, but the Giants also do not believe he'll actually end up with the Dodgers. 

"A smart negotiation tactic," one source said, smiling. 

The Dodgers reportedly bid about $300 million on Cole and were in on Anthony Rendon, who reportedly got $245 million from the Angels, but they don't have a recent history of spending big on free agents. Cole and Rendon were special cases because they were at the very top of their respective markets. 

Bumgarner, per sources familiar with his thinking, is seeking a deal in excess of $100 million. It's unknown just how high the Giants would go and they're not thought to be at the forefront of discussions, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi met with Bumgarner's agents on Tuesday and said Wednesday night that the Giants are still engaged with Bumgarner's camp. 

Most in the organization are still preparing for Bumgarner's departure, and it's unlikely that the latest rumors will change that thinking. Zaidi isn't one to be bullied into a move by the possibility of a popular player signing with a rival. This will be a baseball decision for the Giants.

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"We are kind of going through the process with all free agents based on where we are as an organization, what our direction is going to be, and there's a lot of rumors and a lot of innuendo and a lot of noise," Zaidi said Wednesday night when the latest rumor was brought up. "We just have to go based on what we know and the conversations that we're having."

MLB rumors: Giants bringing in Oracle Park fences, but only slightly

MLB rumors: Giants bringing in Oracle Park fences, but only slightly

The Giants promised there would be changes to the dimensions of Oracle Park, and they evidently have lived up to their word.

The fences are coming in -- but not by a ton.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Hank Schulman, San Francisco reportedly has marginally shortened the distance to all fields.

What about Triples Alley, you ask? Surely there must be more drastic changes to that area of Oracle Park, right?

Not really.

Six feet doesn't sound like a lot, but then again, Brandon Belt might have doubled his home-run total from last season under those dimensions. The Giants are removing the bullpen mounds from the first and third-base sidelines, and they are expected to be relocated to the extra space now created in the outfield.

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So, it appears Oracle Park generally will maintain the same character, but likely will allow for more offense. Given the trouble the Giants have had in attracting free-agent hitters, perhaps the shortened dimensions will somewhat detract from its identity as a pitcher's haven.