Giants

Giants expect Buster Posey back in lineup on Wednesday vs. Padres

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USATSI

Giants expect Buster Posey back in lineup on Wednesday vs. Padres

SAN FRANCISCO -- The scoreboard said it was 96 degrees at Oracle Park when the Giants started batting practice on Tuesday. That's hitting weather, but a couple of key bats remain out for manager Bruce Bochy.

Brandon Belt missed the game with a stiff neck, and Buster Posey is not eligible to return from the Injured List until Wednesday. Bochy said Posey, who has a hamstring strain, should start the second game of this series. He took batting practice with the team Tuesday. 

"It's not a definite, but it looks good," Bochy said. 

The lineup was also without Belt for the start of a two-game series with the Padres. He was sick Sunday but was preparing to pinch-hit late in that game when his neck locked up on him in the cage. That's why Belt never hit in a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers, and Bochy said he needs another day to heal. Belt should be available to come off the bench if needed. 

The lineup against rookie Chris Paddack did come with a surprise other than Belt's absence. Tyler Austin started in left field against a righty starter for just the third time this season; Austin entered the day hitting .138 against righties but is one of Bochy's few power bats, so the staff decided to give him a few more starts regardless of the matchup. 

--- From earlier, the Giants had just one position player -- Posey -- in the top 10 of voting for the All-Star Game. Will Smith will almost certainly be the Giants rep, and Bochy gave him the nod Tuesday while also noting that Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have thrown well.

Bumgarner, by the way, will get another shot at Max Muncy and the Dodgers. The Giants have two off days this week but will keep Bumgarner on a more normal schedule, starting him either Friday or Saturday instead of his regular turn on Sunday. That means Bumgarner will pitch at Dodger Stadium during a four-game series next week. 

Giants' recent run makes Bruce Bochy's final season competitive again

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USATSI

Giants' recent run makes Bruce Bochy's final season competitive again

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy has daily conversations with Farhan Zaidi, but as the schedule turned to July, the manager did his best to insulate the clubhouse from anything the Giants president of baseball operations might have been planning. Bochy is aware of trade discussions, of course, but he didn't feel like his team was distracted and needed any guidance. 

"I never felt like I had to talk to anybody," Bochy said Wednesday. "They know this time of year you're going to hear rumors and speculation, but I never heard anything in there, including from the obvious one, Madison (Bumgarner). Their focus was on the field and that's a good thing."

That focus has helped the Giants get back into the wild-card race. With a sweep of the Rockies, the Giants have passed the Reds, Pirates, Rockies and Padres in the standings. Asked if he looks at the Wild Card standings, Bochy made a face and shook his head. But he admitted he has a general idea of where his team is at. 

No matter how this ends up, this run could end up being huge for Bochy personally. First and foremost, the Giants are suddenly competitive in his final season. That's all he wanted all along, and if he's maneuvering to try and clinch a playoff spot in late September, it'll be a pleasant surprise for a man who had a hard time watching some of his team's play in the first half. 

[RELATED: Giants playing loose with deadline approaching]

There's something else at play here, too. The recent run has gotten Bochy to 1,972 wins in his career. The Giants need to go just 28-38 down the stretch to get Bochy to 2,000 wins before he hangs them up. 

That's not a number Bochy has ever talked about, but it would be a nice milestone. We'll see where the Giants end up in the standings, but at the very least their upward turn has made this final season a much better one for a Hall of Fame manager.

Baseball pioneer Pumpsie Green's accomplishments should not be forgotten

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AP

Baseball pioneer Pumpsie Green's accomplishments should not be forgotten

It’s a shame Pumpsie Green won’t get to celebrate the 60th anniversary. Not of his marriage; he and his wife, Marie, reached that milestone two years ago. The other anniversary.

The day he made history.

It was on July 21, 1959 that Green broke baseball’s last clubhouse color line, becoming the first black man to wear the uniform of the Boston Red Sox. That moment was not at all diminished by the fact that it came 12 years, two months and six days after Jackie Robinson’s seminal debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The American League Red Sox, you see, had spent those years assiduously ignoring or rejecting hundreds of black prospects. The National League Boston Braves, with a home ballpark a five-minute drive from famed Fenway, opened their door in 1950, signing Sam Jethroe. One year earlier, in 1949, a naïve young Red Sox scout, George Digby, was rebuffed in his attempts to persuade owner Tom Yawkey to sign a 17-year-old kid named Willie Mays for $4,500.

The honor, as it was, fell to Green. Ten years after the Sox found reason to disqualify Mays.

With a list of valid reasons to be bitter, Pumpsie stayed humble, kept it professional and graciously accepted the support of teammate and Red Sox legend Ted Williams.

As his groundbreaking moment gave way to a shortlist of accomplishments, Green remained true to himself, his family and his task. As the eldest of five athletic brothers – one of whom, Cornell, was a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the NFL Dallas Cowboys – growing up in the Richmond-El Cerrito area, Pumpsie understood the concept of responsibility and setting an example.

He was hired to play ball, and he took the job seriously. He was no superstar. Nor was he an All-Star. He was not a token, either, as one week after Green’s first at-bat, Earl Wilson made his pitching debut with the Red Sox.

Green played 344 games over parts of five seasons, a career too short to qualify for a pension. He batted .246, with 13 home runs and 74 RBI in 796 at-bats. He was, to be accurate, an otherwise unremarkable player whose sheer talent fell well short of his character.

That much I’d gleaned from years of talking to people acquainted with him. He was, by all accounts, a gentleman. I reached the same conclusion nearly 15 years ago when he invited me to his El Cerrito home.

I went because I was curious, not so much about Pumpsie himself but about his reaction to an event many believed might never happen. Two weeks earlier, the Red Sox, after 86 years without winning a World Series, ended the drought. The “Curse of the Bambino” had lifted.

Green had watched the World Series, most of it, but he neither led nor followed cheers. It was at his convenience that he would settle into his favorite chair for some Sox-Cardinals baseball.

There was no animosity. Pumpsie Green emotionally was unattached to the Red Sox. He watched, when he chose to, mostly because he likes baseball.

He did express that most of the happiness he felt was for the fans of New England, who had rooted so hard, for so long, only to go sledding, year after year, into winter unfulfilled. The victory was not his but theirs, and for that he was pleased.

Green explained that he recently had strengthened his relationship with the franchise. A group led by commodities trader and hedge fund manager John Henry purchased the Red Sox from the Yawkey family trust in 2002. The new owners cast a net of outreach wide enough to include Pumpsie.

Green was satisfied by that, felt the new group had “remembered” him. They invited him back to Boston several times, including in 2009 when he threw a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway. He was inducted 14 months ago into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: Giants playing loose with trade deadline approaching]

Elijah “Pumpsie” Green passed away Wednesday, three days before the 60th anniversary of his big-league debut. He was 85.

“Pumpsie Green occupies a special place in our history,” Henry said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “He was, by his own admission, a reluctant pioneer, but we will always remember him for his grace and perseverance in becoming our first African-American player. He paved the way for the many great Sox players of color who followed. For that, we all owe Pumpsie a debt of gratitude.”

In the breathless race to regurgitate what happened five minutes ago -- a treadmill without end -- there often is no time for context or reflection. The value of history can get lost because, well, it happened generations earlier. Men like Pumpsie Green deserve better.