Giants make move to rotation, plan change in center field


Giants make move to rotation, plan change in center field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy was cryptic about several Giants earlier this week. On Thursday, we finally got some answers. 

Bochy had said that he had a conversation with Denard Span that was not centered on playing time, and Thursday -- a day after another Span misplay in center -- Bochy revealed that he has talked to Span about moving to left field. The problem: It's a transition the Giants don't want to make during the season. 

"It's hard to do during the season," Bochy said. "We did it with Angel (Pagan) and he said it took a whole spring training for him to finally feel comfortable out there."

If Span moves, it will be in the offseason. Of course, there's no guarantee he will even be a Giant next year. Span and Hunter Pence are both entering the final years of their deals and many in the organization believe both would be best served in left field. Does that mean a platoon? Something else? We'll see, but this ball is rolling, finally. 

The other big decision came with the rotation. Matt Cain is back in the bullpen and Chris Stratton will start Saturday, and then again the next time out. Bochy said he hopes Stratton takes the job and runs with it, but either way, he'll get at least two or three starts to prove himself. 

"We'll give Stratton a shot to show what he can do," Bochy said. 

The same holds true for Ryder Jones. He's back after tearing up Triple-A upon his demotion and Bochy said he'll play every day, either at third base or in the outfield. 

"I'm going to try to keep his at-bats consistent," he said. 

Jones is hitting second tonight so that he has some protection. A two-month stretch of success from him would certainly make the offseason planning easier. 

The flip side to this mini-youth movement is that Conor Gillaspie was designated for assignment. It actually happened Wednesday night, but Bochy was still a bit shaken on Thursday. He was visibly emotional and said frankly, "It stinks."

"It's always difficult," Bochy said. "Conor, as you well know, did a lot for us last year, especially down the stretch. This is the tough thing about going through a year like this."

It's only just beginning, and Bochy knows it. Michael Morse is back home and likely will end his Giants career on the DL. Cain will probably get a going away start at some point, but his time here is down to two months. Pence's playing time might be cut, and changes could come in the bullpen. Thursday was picture day at the park, and it was a weirdly dark scene. 

It's the way it now is, but the Giants are not fully letting go. Bochy said his hope is that Gillaspie clears waivers and returns to the organization to go and play in Sacramento. If he does that, a September return is possible. 

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

Mayor London Breed clears way for Giants' June return to Oracle Park

The Giants expect the construction of their new bullpens to be finished in the next week or so. It might not be much longer before players are allowed to throw off the mounds. 

San Francisco mayor London Breed outlined new reopening rules on Thursday afternoon, and there was good news for professional sports teams. As part of a phase that will go into effect before June 15, professional sports teams can practice in the city of San Francisco with an approved plan. The city is targeting June 15 for the next phase, which states in part, "Professional sports games, tournaments and other entertainment venues allowed with no spectators with approved plans."

The players and owners are still far apart in negotiations, but if they can strike a deal that gets baseball back in July -- the target is to get games back by the July 4 holiday -- the Giants will be cleared to come home. Internally, they are still discussing the next steps and what a Spring Training 2.0 might look like. They're trying to decide between training at Scottsdale Stadium and doing so at Oracle Park, and the current lean is said to be returning to San Francisco.

It's not quite that easy, of course. The Giants would have to make significant changes to the structure at Oracle Park, expanding clubhouse space and finding new areas within the ballpark's footprint to train while following social distancing rules. They're hashing all of that now, and while they were never all that concerned about the restrictions in San Francisco, it certainly is a sigh of relief that the city is officially moving forward with reopening plans. 

[RELATED: Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park-style garlic fries]

The Giants have quietly reopened one of their other facilities in the meantime. Players who remained in the Scottsdale area have been allowed to work out at the ballpark there, although social distancing is practiced and there are limits on how many people can be in the building at one time. The vast majority of the team remains spread out across the country. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

How Giants fans' support impressed Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon

Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon entered this season as two of the more popular Giants, but a year ago at this time they were in extremely different situations. Yastrzemski was just getting his feet wet in his first week in the big leagues. Dubon was playing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

They both got shots to grab a starting role later in the 2019 season with the Giants, and both did enough that they were going to be in Gabe Kapler's Opening Day lineup, possibly right at the top. Life changed quickly for Yastrzemski and Dubon, and on this week's episode of "Chalk Talk at Home," they talked about how far they've come. Both said interactions with the Giants fan base stood out early in their big league careers. 

"I struck out my first at-bat and they were still cheering for me walking back," Yastrzemski  "You don't get that too often, where it's a big market, big city with a huge history of winning, and usually fans demand excellence. The fans are so great out there that they're just exited for somebody to get an opportunity to come help the team and they're going to support you."

Dubon came along three months later, but he already knew all about Oracle Park's supportive fan. He grew up as one after moving to Honduras to Sacramento as a teenager. Still, Dubon found himself surprised by early interactions. 

"I was just trying to play baseball and the next thing I know I'm walking down the streets going to the field and a lot of people are honking in the car and saying hi to me, and I had no idea how they recognized me," he said. "It's pretty amazing how the Giants fans are."

Last year's rookie breakouts are training in Nashville and Miami, respectively, and both hope to be back at Oracle Park soon. MLB is angling for a July return, although there are plenty of hurdles. Whenever the sport resumes, it'll do so without fans, which might not be the adjustment you would expect.

Yastrzemski said he's able to get so focused at the plate that he never hears any noise anyway. The outfield may get weird, though. 

"You're used to having to like try and scream at the guy next to you to try and get his attention," he said. "You can whisper now."

[RELATED: Learn how to make Oracle Park's garlic fries]

Yastrzemski said it's going to be interesting to see how guys react, because some really feed off the energy coming from the seats. Dubon certainly qualifies as one of those players, and he said the empty stadium "is going to be weird."

"I'm a guy that feeds off that," he said. "I've just got to get used to it, I've just got to get used to not having anybody. I played in rookie ball here in Florida with literally nobody and it's going to be pretty much like that with the best players in the world."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]