Giants

Giants great Matty Alou dies

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Giants great Matty Alou dies

Giants legend Mateo Rojas "Matty" Alou, who made history with Jesus and Felipe as the first trio of brothers to play the outfield together in the majors, passed away in Miami Thursday at the age of 72.

Alou made his debut with the Giants in 1960. The Alou brothers finished their careers with 5,094 hits, the highest total for brothers in big-league history.

Alou played for six teams in a 15-year career, and starred for San Francisco from 1960-65.

He won the 1969 National League Batting title with an average of .342 while with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2007 with a ceremony at AT&T Park before a game between the Giants and the New York Yankees.

Alou retired with a career batting average of .307, 1,777 hits and 427 RBIs. He is regarded as one of the greatest players to come out of the Dominican Republic.

He was a two-time All-Star (1968, '69) and was a member of the 1972 World Series champion Oakland A's.

Dominican Olympic Committee president Luisin Mejia made the announcement of Alou's passing on Thursday morning.

The Giants released the following statement Thursday morning:

The Giants were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of former Giants outfielder Matty Alou. Matty, who was a formidable player during his career, was a lifetime .307 hitter who collected 1,777 hits over 15 seasons, six with the Giants from 1960-65. He was a two-time All-Star and won the 1966 National League batting title with a .342 average while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although he played for six different teams, Matty remained a part of the Giants family as a long time employee and will be forever linked with his brothers Felipe and Jesus as the first all-brother Major League outfield. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Alou Family during this difficult time.

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and others will have a different look at plate

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Alex Pavlovic

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and others will have a different look at plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After 10 days of watching him take batting practice and do catching drills, the Giants fully expect Buster Posey to be in the lineup on March 28 in San Diego. When he digs into the box, you'll see a different look from Posey, now in his 11th big league season. 

Posey is one of a dozen Giants wearing a batting helmet with a flap this spring. Last year, the Giants had just one player on their active roster -- backup catcher Aramis Garcia -- with a flap protecting his jaw. Posey said he plans to use the new helmet during the 2019 season. 

"I thought about changing last year but I didn't want to do it during the season," he said. "It's just about getting more protection.

Not surprisingly, the catchers appear to be leading the way. Garcia started wearing a helmet flap after suffering a facial fracture in 2016 while playing for the San Jose Giants. René Rivera started wearing the bigger helmet last year, not because of concussion issues -- Posey and Garcia both have had concussions behind the plate -- but because of what he was seeing from pitchers. 

"Everyone is throwing harder every year, and a lot of these guys are throwing up in the zone now," he said, mimicking a fastball that moves quickly towards a batter's head. "It's extra protection at the plate."

The catchers aren't the only ones with the new look. Pablo Sandoval had a flap on his helmet during live batting practice sessions earlier this week, along with Cameron Maybin, who wore one last year with the Marlins and Mariners. Others are expected to follow. 

The change for homegrown Giants has a lot to do with a change by Rawlings. The equipment company has a new helmet that is made to withstand a 105 mph fastball, an increase from the old helmet that withstood 100 mph. The r-flap has been redesigned and is not as bulky. 

Brad Grems, the clubhouse coordinator, said Rawlings engineers will be in the clubhouse Friday to show players their new helmets. Rawlings now has flaps that can be screwed onto the helmet in three different positions, allowing for more flexibility and comfort. Garcia said the old flap, while necessary for him, would often press against his face. 

According to Grems, the new helmet will be a better fit for players' heads. By 2020, Rawlings plans to roll out the new, better-fitting helmet in every clubhouse. By then, you could see a lot more players protecting their jaws with a helmet flap.

MLB rumors: Phillies confident they'll sign Bryce Harper in free agency

MLB rumors: Phillies confident they'll sign Bryce Harper in free agency

We have an update in the latest edition of MLB's daily reality show: "Where on earth will Bryce Harper sign?"

Well, it's kind of an update.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who have long been considered a favorite to sign the 26-year-old superstar, "are confident" they will sign the former Nationals outfielder, Matt Breen of Philly.com reported Thursday.

After Manny Machado agreed to a record 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, Breen reports that the Phillies have "ramped up their negotiations" in their efforts to land Harper.

The Giants, of course, have been linked to Harper ever since they met with the prized free agent in early February. At one point the Giants were considered the betting favorites for Harper's services.

However, on Wednesday it was reported that they were "not optimistic" about landing the six-time All-Star.

[RELATED: Where Harper market stands after Machado's record contract]

Although Breen notes in his piece that the Giants appear to be the Phillies' biggest challenger for Harper, it still appears that San Francisco is more likely to be the bridesmaid than the bride in the bid to acquire the 2015 NL MVP.

But, who knows -- in the world of this slow MLB free agency, there will probably be more twists and turns before all is said and done.