Giants' Joey Bart looks for better luck after season cut short by injuries

Giants' Joey Bart looks for better luck after season cut short by injuries

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants put Joey Bart's locker a few feet away from Buster Posey's in their new clubhouse. Their young hitting coaches surrounded the cage when Bart took batting practice Wednesday, and a couple went over with words of encouragement once he was done depositing baseballs onto the berm in right-center. Despite an obvious need at backup catcher, the plan remains for Bart to start the year in Triple-A and get more reps. 

A top prospect -- and Bart is one of the best in the game -- is watched closely every step of the way and has every part of his development plan mapped out. But sometimes you also need to be lucky, or in Bart's case, simply avoid getting unlucky.

Before the first Giants workout of the spring, Bart said he's excited for what's ahead, eager to learn and confident Gabe Kapler has the organization headed in the right direction. He should be a big part of that future -- if opposing pitchers can just stop hitting the hands that can do so much damage to fastballs. 

Bart missed six weeks in Advanced A-ball early last season when he was hit by an inside pitch and fractured the second metacarpal in his left hand. His demolition of the Arizona Fall League was halted months later when another inside pitch fractured his right thumb. 

Bart spent part of his first full day in camp talking about those experiences, and the sobering knowledge that there's little he can do to prevent it from happening again. There's only so much protection a hitter can wear on his hands while staying able to swing freely. 

"You're going to get hit again," Bart said. "Hopefully I don't get hit on the hand again, but I can't control that obviously."

There are ways you can try to limit risk. The Giants over the years have kept veterans out of some spring games that were going to be heavy on low-minors pitching. Command gets better at the upper levels of the minors, and in theory, Bart should be at less risk in Triple-A and, possibly as soon as this summer, the big leagues. 

But the Arizona Fall League is full of hard-throwing prospects who don't quite know where the ball is going, and that's a dangerous combination when you're told to throw inside. 

In that final AFL game, Bart already had been hit once and brushed back twice. He was hit on the hand in his third plate appearance and the bench exploded. Pitching coach Steve Kline, who will work in Double-A for the Giants this season, had to be held back as he yelled at the young Pirates prospect who drilled Bart. Kline said Wednesday that he was so upset because the Pirates teach their pitchers to throw hard and in at every level and it often leads to injuries for other young players. 

"Everybody says pitch in, but you have to know how to pitch in so you can get the guy out away," Kline said. "Guys just throw in and in and in."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Gabe Kapler's first day]

Bart's Scorpions teammates later threw at a member of the other team and the sides exchanged words when the game was over. Bart said he knew right away that his season was over after another bad break. 

"Especially in the Fall League I saw a lot more pitches inside," Bart said. "I think that's just because, from what I hear, that's kind of what the Pirates, their thing is. That's what my teammates told me, that when they faced them in Double-A that's all they did and they just hit people left and right and their philosophy is hard in. It's great, it's definitely hard to hit, but if you can't do it right it obviously puts it in a different ballgame. They were throwing in there hard, and very uncompetitive pitches. The one that hit me was going to hit me in the head if I didn't somehow get out of the way."

Bart is used to taking a beating between the lines. He is a catcher, after all. But last year's experience doesn't seem to have lingered mentally or physically at all. He put on a show in BP in the afternoon, showing the opposite-field strength that is his hallmark. Bart said his plan at the plate hasn't changed.

"Just go in the box looking for my pitch to hit," he said, "And try to get out of the way."

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

If you're going through withdrawals without baseball, there might be some good news for you.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday, citing sources, that MLB and the players' association are working on a plan that would eventually lead to the 2020 season starting sometime in May, with all games being played in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

No specific date in May was given, but Passan reported that the plan being worked on has the approval of "high-ranking federal public health officials."

The start of the 2020 season was delayed March 12 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to Passan, players, coaches and essential team personnel would be isolated at hotels in Arizona, and would only allowed to go back and forth between the hotel and the stadiums.

Passan reported, citing sources, that players appear to be skeptical of the idea of separating from their families for four-plus months.

Former A's pitcher Brett Anderson doesn't appear to be a fan of being separated from his family.

As you might expect, this plan is far from a certainty, and Passan reported, citing sources, that some officials believes a June start date for the season is more realistic.

In an interview with KNBR 680 on Friday, Giants CEO Larry Baer said he believes the idea of putting all 30 teams in Arizona might be the best option.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Baer said. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

It remains to be seen if the league and the players' association can clear all the hurdles to make this happen, but at the very least, it's a glimmer of hope for those craving to watch live baseball again.

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

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

It seems like just about every no-hitter includes that moment that turns a teammate into the game's second star. Gregor Blanco will forever be a big part of Matt Cain's perfect game, and Hunter Pence's diving catch was a memorable moment during Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter. 

But when Lincecum no-hit the Padres again a season later, there was very little drama. Nobody had to dive or leap over the top of the wall. Lincecum cruised, dominating the Padres with an onslaught of sliders -- he threw 40 of them and got 13 outs -- and inducing soft contact all afternoon. He calmly and efficiently put his name back in the record books. 

The second no-hitter in under a year made Lincecum one of just four pitchers since 1961 to pull that off. He joined Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers with multiple Cy Young Awards and multiple no-hitters, and Lincecum and Koufax are the only two who also have multiple World Series titles, as well.

It was a day that added one last highlight to one of the greatest runs in franchise history. "It was the Tim Lincecum show," Bruce Bochy said on June 25, 2014. "He really was an artist out there."

The show will re-air tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. As you watch, here are five things you might have forgotten about Lincecum's second no-hitter ...

Dual Threat

Lincecum truly was a remarkable athlete, although that rarely showed in other facets of the game. He was a smooth runner but not one of those pitchers that you would ever consider as a pinch-running weapon. And while he would occasionally get in a groove during BP, he never homered in a game and batted just .112 as a big leaguer. 

Lincecum had five multi-hit games, and one happened to come on this day. He singled in the third and again in the seventh, by which point the whole crowd knew what was at stake. When he met with reporters the next day, Lincecum admitted he watched highlights after the game, but not of his pitches.

"I watched the replay of my hits," he said. "I was really pumped about those, to be honest with you. I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't. I watched those quite a bit."

He Threw It With a Stache

One of the funniest parts about Lincecum's Giants career was that he often showed up to FanFest with an all-new look. No joke, reporters and cameramen would scramble to get a good spot in front of Lincecum's podium every February, knowing there was a decent chance you would have to send a photo out via Twitter right away.

One year, I sent out a FanFest photo and a couple hours later saw that it had been picked up by the New York Post. 

The 2014 tweak was one of the best. Lincecum showed up with a mustache, amusing his teammates and fans. 

The caterpillar was still going strong when he pitched his second no-hitter. 

(Sidebar: If you're not using shelter in place to experiment with a sweet stache, you're making a mistake.)

Memorable Defensive Day

This is one day that's missing from those #BusterHugs montages, because Posey played first base that day since it was a day game after a night game. He went 4-for-4 and drove in two of the runs.

That meant Hector Sanchez, 24 at the time, got to guide Lincecum through the day and sit on the podium with him afterwards. 

The final out was recorded by Joe Panik, who was making his fourth career start. 

No Time for Jinxes

Linecum was on second base during a pitching change in the seventh inning and he jogged over to the dugout, fist-bumping reliever Juan Gutierrez and chatting with third base coach Tim Flannery. Lincecum was about the last pitcher who would ever worry about the game's traditions, and he spent the final innings chatting it up with teammates. 

Asked later why he didn't sit by himself like most starters working on a no-hitter, Lincecum said, "It's more awkward when they don't talk to you than when they do." That makes a lot of sense, actually.  

Lincecum was carefree that entire day. At one point, the cameras caught him mimicking his own running style in the dugout:

Timmy Being Timmy

One of the main reasons Lincecum became such a fan favorite was how relatable he was. He would forget that the mic was live during on-field interviews with Amy Gutierrez. He would talk openly about how much he could eat at In-N-Out. There were other indulgences that were well known and fit in with the city he played in. 

So it wasn't much of a surprise when Lincecum smiled when a reporter asked how he would celebrate. 

"I'm going to go to my house and drink a little bit," he said. "Can I say that?"