Giants

Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

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Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants did not view re-signing MelkyCabrera as a priority this offseason. Their focus was and is to bring back free-agent center fielder Angel Pagan.

Cabrera was a fallback option, and a conceptual one at that. The Giants never engaged him this offseason, and they only would've gotten involvedif certain folks in baseball operations could convince ownership to consider thepossibility.
So it was not an apple-cart upsetting moment for the Giantstoday when ESPN Deportes broke the news that Cabrera will sign with the TorontoBlue Jays for a two-year contract worth 16 million. The deal is reportedlypending a physical.

The guaranteed money was more than most in the industryexpected Cabrera to receive after he got popped for using exogenoustestosterone last summer and began serving a 50-game suspension on Aug. 15.Its certainly more than the Giants wouldve been willing to give Cabrera underany circumstances. Even if baseball ops could make a compelling case to CEO LarryBaer and ownership to bring back the disgraced outfielder, it wouldve been ona low-risk, one-year contract.

As enlightening as that internal debate wouldve been, itwont happen now.

Oh, and by the way: the Melk Men can circle June 4-5 ontheir calendars. Thats when the Blue Jays visit AT&T Park for aninterleague series. The Giants also play at Toronto May 14-15.

The Giants remain focused on re-signingPagan, and even though the expectation was that Pagan would let the market play out as Carlos Beltran did a year ago, Im told that there is greater optimism that a deal can be reachedbetween the two parties. Giants manager Bruce Bochy talked to Pagan onThursday, and planned to touch base with second baseman Marco Scutaro in the comingdays.

Pagan is looking for at least a three-year contract afterscoring 95 runs and leading the majors with 15 triples. There are other free-agentoutfield options such as Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. ButBourn is expected to command the biggest salary of the bunch, and the Giantsneed a leadoff presence something Pagan provided forcefully after moving backto the No.1 spot in the lineup on Aug. 3.

RELATED: Angel Pagan stats 2012 game logs

Cabrera was plenty forceful in his 4 months as a Giant. Hewas the All-Star Game MVP and was leading the majors in hits and runs when hewas suspended.

As youll recall, Cabrera was eligible for the NLCS andWorld Series after serving the term of his suspension. But the Giants gave himthe 10-foot-pole treatment and declined to even let him work out at the clubsminor league complex to be a candidate to play in the postseason. That was duein large part to the way he tucked tail and left the clubhouse withoutexplanation following the announcement of his suspension; rumors of thepositive test began to circulate before that, and Cabrera lied to teammates,coaches and club officials when asked if they were true. A handler employed byhis agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, also got caught in a harebrained scheme thatincluded a phony product and a phony Web site in a thinly veiled ruse toconvince league officials that Cabrera had inadvertently taken a bannedsubstance.
Cabrera did not issue a confession and apology until afterthe suspension was announced and he had no other recourse but to try to repairhis image. He and his agents extended another olive branch by convincing unionand league officials to amend a rule that would allow him one extra hitlessat-bat to qualify him for the batting title; by changing the rule, it allowedGiants catcher and NL MVP Buster Posey to win the first batting crown by an NLcatcher in 70 years.

It was thought that Cabreras gesture, combined with the Asdecision to re-sign suspended pitcher Bartolo Colon, would create a climate in which the Giants could be more open-minded to re-signing Cabrera. But Im told no negotiations took placebetween the team and Cabrera. And that wasn't just a reflection on the Giants' priorities.

When a kid gets caught stealing acandy bar from a store, he doesnt want to walk into that store again.

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Strickland's lack of reliability rears its ugly head once again

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USATSI

Strickland's lack of reliability rears its ugly head once again

Hunter Strickland is as automatic as a closer has ever been. When there is a tantrum to air, he airs it for the world to see.

His latest and maybe most spectacular snap came last night when he lost a fight to a door at AT&T Park after being bested by Miami’s Lewis Brinson in the Marlins’ 5-4 win over the Giants. He punched said door with his pitching hand, broke his right pinky and will miss the next six to eight weeks while thinking about what he’s done.

Again.

Like Wile E. Coyote.

Strickland was defending the old baseball code of frontier justice for people who celebrate success on a ballfield, as Brinson did last week in Miami. He threw a pitch at Brinson, then gave up a base hit to the anemic-hitting outfielder, and decided upon reflection that the clubhouse door was taunting him by existing.

So he punched it, with the predictable result.

Strickland’s M.O. here has been of a hard-throwing red-behinded American who brooks no slights and holds all grudges, for weeks or even years at a time (hello, Bryce Harper). But to break his hand because he couldn’t outduel a .179 hitter best known for being a joke candidate for the National league All-Star Team through the auspices of the Dan Le Batard radio show in Miami...well, this cements Strickland’s reputation as the man you go to when you want to show your children what self-control doesn’t look like.

One can speculate how the Giants, who have endured his microscopic fuse before, will view this latest transgression against common sense. One could see Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy arguing halfway through a commiserative beer before tabling the subject for as many weeks as it takes for him to heal. They could agree that Strickland is more trouble than his results are worth, they could agree that his talent trumps his tantrums, or argue about it until they finish the beer.

But Strickland’s lack of reliability or decorum has interfered more than once with his career, and it seems unlikely to get any better in the foreseeable future. He is Hunter Strickland, the beanballing, door-punching hothead who can always be relied upon to be unreliable.

And the Giants have to decide quickly whether he is worth any more of their precious bother. They don’t have to announce the results, but they do need to reach a denouement with Strickland and his flaming forehead.

The guess? They will endure until they can find someone willing to take him and his flailing fists off their hands. That, we suspect, may take awhile. And by then, he might have broken his foot kicking an ottoman after a game against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds. As in red-ass. I mean, if you're going to go, go all the way.

After blowing save vs Marlins, Hunter Strickland fractured his hand punching a door

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AP

After blowing save vs Marlins, Hunter Strickland fractured his hand punching a door

SAN FRANCISCO — Hunter Strickland’s temper has at times tarnished his reputation, led to a suspension, and ignited a fight that was a low point of the 2017 season and ended Michael Morse's career. Now, it has cost the Giants their closer for a couple of months. 

Strickland punched a door after blowing a save Monday night and suffered a fracture in his pitching hand. The right-hander was having surgery on his right pinky finger Tuesday afternoon and is expected to miss at least six to eight weeks. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said he did not find out about Strickland until he got home after a 5-4 loss. He said the news “crushed” him, noting that Strickland had grown as a pitcher and person since taking over the closer role at the end of spring training. 

“The closer has got to have emotional control,” Bochy said. “We all get frustrated and that’s a tough loss and a gut-wrenching loss. I’m sure he felt full responsibility. He didn’t think before it happened. I’m thoroughly disappointed, trust me. I’m crushed, because this guy has grown as a pitcher and a person. I know Hunter cares deeply.”

Strickland had shown signs of growth since a fight with Bryce Harper last season. Members of the staff noticed a change in his demeanor on the mound, and a new, calmer slider led to a start that had him getting All-Star consideration. Strickland had a 2.01 ERA and 13 saves in 16 opportunities before facing the Marlins. They took advantage of a night when Strickland had poor command, scoring three runs to take the lead and steal a win. 

Strickland chirped at rookie Lewis Brinson as he walked off the field. Brinson had celebrated after getting the game-tying single. Shortly thereafter, Strickland apparently threw an ill-advised punch with his pitching hand. 

Without Strickland, Bochy said he will lean on Tony Watson and Sam Dyson for the ninth inning. Mark Melancon, who got a record deal to be the closer, is not viewed as durable enough at this point because of his own injury issues. Watson and Dyson have been having strong seasons, and Bochy said one of them will get the lion’s share of the save opportunities. Rookie Pierce Johnson will return to take Strickland’s roster spot.