Giants

Giants' Jeff Samardzija has 'evolved' in midst of dominant stretch

Giants' Jeff Samardzija has 'evolved' in midst of dominant stretch

Jeff Samardzija has been on a roll ever since the calendar flipped from June to July, and the Giants right-hander kept that momentum going in his second start of August.

In the Giants' 3-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday, Samardzija matched a season high by completing eight innings. He also allowed just two hits and one earned run, didn't walk any batters and struck out five along the way at Oracle Park.

With Samardzija at 103 pitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy went to closer Will Smith to record the final three outs, preventing his starter from picking up his first complete game of the season.

"No, we had Smitty ready," Bochy told reporters when asked if he thought about letting Samardzija have the ninth inning. "It was a pretty good day's work. Eight innings, little warm out there.

"Could he [finish the game]? Yeah, I'm sure, but we had it set up right."

Samardzija now has a 1.95 ERA in eight starts between July and August, and after this latest outing, Bochy was asked if it was one of the best he's seen from Shark.

"It's right up there at the top," Bochy said. "He's in a really good place as far as commanding the ball, all four pitches, both sides of the plate, pitches up. That was just a great job of executing your pitches for eight innings. But I'd put that one toward the top."

Back in 2017, Samardzija had a 15-game stretch in which he walked just five batters and struck out 103 in 97 innings. But his ERA during that span was 4.64.

Bochy believes this is one of the best stretches of Samardzija's Giants tenure.

"I'd say, yeah," Bochy told reporters. "He had a good run a couple years ago where he was locked in and throwing the ball well. And you know what he went through last year. But I'd say with where he's at, he's evolved into a complete pitcher with the four-pitch mix that he uses and the command of them. He's got good savvy out there on what to throw. He and Buster [Posey] work well together. I'd say this run here is probably as good as the one he had before."

[RELATED: How Vogelsong prepared Coonrod for success]

After an injury-plagued 2018 in which he was limited to just 10 starts, does Samardzija feel like he's back to his 2017 form?

"Different guy, but same confidence," Samardzija said. "Which feels good, you know, that you're going to go out there and get outs, and make it nice and quick and get your offense in the dugout. For a while, it was such a grind just to go out there and get an out, it didn't feel good. You never forget that."

Giants' Mike Krukow has no sympathy for Aubrey Huff, says he 'blew it'

Giants' Mike Krukow has no sympathy for Aubrey Huff, says he 'blew it'

You can add Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow to the list of people who have no sympathy for Aubrey Huff after the former first baseman was informed that he would not be welcome at Oracle Park for the celebration of San Francisco's 2010 World Series Championship team this coming August.

"I think that Aubrey Huff blew it, and I think him not being included is something he needs to take to heart," Krukow said on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show" on Tuesday. "I don't think it's going to affect the invitation in 20 years should he compose himself a little more responsibly on social media. He had a chance to represent the Giants away from the community, even though he's not under contract, I think it's a contract you sign for life ... I just think he's been irresponsible and he's paying a price for it.

"The one thing that never really gets discussed: In every contract you ever sign with a professional team, is they have a clause in there where they talk about how you as a player have to comport yourself in an appropriate manner. Those are words that when you sign your contract, they’ll stop the discussion and point to it and say ‘Do you understand this?’ The whole idea is to create a positive image in the community on behalf of the Giants."

The Giants are in Scottsdale for Spring Training, and several players were asked about the team's ruling on Huff. Buster Posey deferred "to the people that make the decisions," while Pablo Sandoval insisted that he "won't be sad" that Huff won't be at the World Series reunion. Krukow feels similarly.

"Me personally? No," he responded when asked if he'll miss Huff on Aug. 16.

[RELATED: How Panda caught Kapler's attention during first live BP]

As San Francisco and Krukow have made clear, there's a give and take to that whole "Forever Giant" thing.

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first session of live batting practice drew a crowd, but for the Giants hitters involved, there wasn't all that much buzz. 

With Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, Gabe Kapler and half the coaching staff watching from behind the backstop, and the analytics staff set up to track pitch characteristics and swings, Brandon Belt stepped up to the plate and took a couple of walks. Buster Posey did the same, tracking pitches into the catcher's glove and then retreating to the dugout to tell hitting coach Donnie Ecker what he was seeing. 

And then Pablo Sandoval dug into the batter's box.

Sandoval swung at the first five pitches he saw from prospect Luis Madero, fouling a couple off and lining a couple into the grass. He was just as aggressive in his second session. When Kapler sat down with reporters a few minutes later, he was still laughing over Sandoval's mentality.

"I've never seen an approach to live BP like Pablo just took," Kapler said. 

The manager loved seeing it for a couple of reasons. First of all, Sandoval figures to be Kapler's top pinch-hit option for most of the year, in part because of that aggression. Kapler said earlier this week that he always feared seeing Sandoval step in when he was managing the Phillies, in large part because he knew Sandoval would be ready to do damage from the first pitch, unlike many hitters who like to first look at a couple offerings in the late innings. 

"It kind of demonstrates why he's so dangerous at the plate, because he's just prepared to drive every pitch," Kapler said. "Generally you calibrate one of two ways: By taking and seeing pitches, and the second way is by swinging at pitches -- and he just took aggressive hacks on everything that was thrown up there."

The second reason Kapler liked what he saw was health-related. Sandoval is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, but he's still likely to miss the first month of the season as he works his throwing arm back into shape. The Giants have, though, discussed the fact that at some point they may have a tough decision to make. 

With a 26th roster spot, they could, in theory, carry Sandoval as he continues to rehab, using him only as a pinch-hitter. On Tuesday, as Sandoval hungrily went after two-seamers and changeups from Madero, he looked the part of someone who could be ready for a hitting-focused role on Opening Day. Kapler noted that Sandoval was "right on" every pitch.

[RELATED: The Giants will use in-game interpreter]

"He's been thinking about his swing for a long time and working on his swing for a while now," Kapler said. "It's going to be like a bit of a tricky puzzle, because we're going to want to get him reps at his pace earlier in camp, and at the same time we know that he's not going to be ready at the same pace as some of our other players. 

"We want to be respectful of the pace that he wants to work at, so we're going to have to weigh those two factors."