Giants' Jeff Samardzija says arm craving work after injuries wrecked 2018


Giants' Jeff Samardzija says arm craving work after injuries wrecked 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — There was a smile plastered to Jeff Samardzija’s face Friday and Saturday, and why wouldn’t there be?

A year ago at this time, the Giants right-hander was preparing for a camp in which his shoulder never quite got there. He knew there was something wrong, but he didn’t reveal it until late March, when there was nothing else he could do on the mound to hide his condition. It was a year of starts-and-stops for the veteran, but after the most tedious offseason of his career, he’s ready to head in one direction. 

“My arm is craving more work and wants to throw long toss, wants to throw bullpens and sliders and curveballs and everything,” Samardzija said. “All I can go by is how I feel and I feel really good.”

Samardzija knows this is not the end game, or anywhere close. He spent most of last summer ramping it up in bullpen sessions, saying he felt good, only to return to a big league mound and see 91 mph on the radar gun. Doctor after doctor told Samardzija he didn’t need surgery, which was a relief, but also led to some confusion. Ultimately, the Giants decided the 34-year-old needed an offseason of rest and rehab. 

Samardzija, a former college football star, always has been such a good athlete that you could picture him rolling out of bed in mid-February and pumping 97. But he rededicated himself this offseason, starting his work the day after a disappointing season ended.

He has lived in the Scottsdale area in the past, but he stayed in San Francisco this winter, working out at the ballpark three times per week and a San Mateo rehab facility twice per week. By Thanksgiving, he was cleared to start throwing. As camp approaches, he’s already deep into bullpen session mode. 

The Giants need to make gains everywhere in order to stay in contention, and a healthy Samardzija would be a boost. A lot of fans gave up on him last season, but the Giants happily would take a repeat of his 2017, when he led the league in innings, struck out 205 batters and provided 2.5 Wins Above Replacement. 

Farhan Zaidi, now the Giants’ president of baseball operations, was in Oakland when the A’s traded a massive package to the Cubs for Samardzija in 2014. He knows what he can provide, but he also is well-versed in Samardzija’s 2018 issues at this point. He has said repeatedly this offseason that the Giants will not push Samardzija too hard. They have enough rotation depth that they can ease him in if the shoulder isn’t fully ready. Zaidi said it would be a “read and react” situation in terms of Samardzija’s innings this year. 

[RELATED: Samardzija opens up about what bugged him about football]

“(But) he’s going to be built up as a regular guy,” he said. 

Samardzija isn’t planning for an easy April. He’s eager to put 2018 behind him, and he believes his shoulder will cooperate. Samardzija said last year was a tough one. But it’s 2019, and thus far he’s all smiles. 

“I’m just excited to get back into that routine of being a pitcher, man,” he said.

Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus


Gabe Kapler says Brandon Crawford created self in NBA video game during hiatus

Gabe Kapler's first Spring Training as Giants manager was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 44-year-old is using virtual methods to get some reps in with the start of the season indefinitely delayed.

Kapler told KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" on Monday night that he is playing "MLB The Show 20," using the game to sharpen and hone his managerial instincts, simulating games in around five minutes while making "all the decisions" in each contest. Giants hitting coach Justin Viele, meanwhile, is using the game to study tendencies of opposing pitchers.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford also is visualizing success, albeit in another sport.

"I played one game, and Crawford was the star of the game," Kapler said. "So I took a picture of the screen, and ... I sent it over to Craw, and so Craw looked at it, and he sent a picture of him playing an NBA video game where he was one of the players and dropped 71 points and nine assists."

It's fair to assume that Crawford, a Pleasanton native and a lifelong Warriors fan, put himself on Golden State in whichever game he was playing (our money's on NBA 2K20). That wouldn't have been a record in a real Warriors game but not a franchise one, considering Wilt Chamberlain scored at least 72 points an astonishing five times, including his NBA-record 100-point game back when the Dubs played in Philadelphia.

[RELATED: Why Timmy's first no-hitter was so unusual for Kruk, Kuip]

This, of course, leads to even more questions. Did Crawford's create-a-player have photorealistic hair? What position did he play? Were his in-game traits the same as -- or as close to it as possible -- in "MLB: The Show?" Was he still a UCLA alumnus in the game, or would he disappoint NBC Sports Bay Area's Brian Witt by not virtually representing the Bruins?

The NBA reportedly will hold an "NBA 2K20" tournament Friday night featuring player representatives for each time. Is it too late for the Warriors to choose Crawford?

Why Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter was so unusual for Duane Kuiper

Why Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter was so unusual for Duane Kuiper

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter against the Padres tonight at 8 PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

For Giants fans, hearing Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow call a game is a comforting thing.

But on July 13, 2013, Kruk and Kuip weren't together for Tim Lincecum's first career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.

They were both in Petco Park to witness history, but because the game was on NBC Bay Area rather than NBC Sports Bay Area that night, they were separated.

"Well, you know, Mike and I are together 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent, Mike is with Jon [Miller] on KNTV," Kuiper told Amy G in an interview on Monday. "So, that was one of those KNTV games where Mike and Jon actually had the call on TV and Dave [Fleming] and I had it on the radio. So it was a bit unusual not having Mike sitting next to me because it's always great to have a pitcher next to you when a guy is throwing a no-hitter because you get a great perspective as to what's going on."

[RELATED: Five nuggets about Lincecum's no-hitter]

NBC Sports Bay Area is re-airing Lincecum's no-hitter Monday night, and while both broadcasters will be watching, they will be doing it separately due to social distancing caused by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.