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. 

Giants Review: In limited time, Avelino was 'a breath of fresh air'


Giants Review: In limited time, Avelino was 'a breath of fresh air'

SAN FRANCISCO — Abiatal Avelino had just 11 at-bats in the big leagues in 2018, three of which resulted in singles. He left a much larger impact on the front office, though. 

When Larry Baer, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy met with beat reporters before the season’s final day, Bochy smiled as he recalled a conversation he had with the rookie in his office a day earlier. Sabean called Avelino “a beautiful young kid” and “very passionate.”

“He has a lot of fun playing the game, and that’s half the battle,” Sabean said. “He’s an interesting personality and I mean that in a positive way. He was a breath of fresh air, even though he didn’t play that much.”

Giants coaches noticed how Avelino seemed to grow two feet the second he got that first hit out of the way, brimming with confidence in subsequent at-bats. They noticed that he was often the first one out of the dugout, greeting teammates who had never heard of him a week or two earlier. He did all the right things off the field, and on the field, there’s plenty of talent. 

Here, Avelino is the latest profiled in our look at the 2018 Giants. If you missed any of them , here are Pablo Sandoval, Ty Blach and Nick Hundley. You can find the rest of them here

What Went Right

Avelino broke through with Double-A Trenton, hitting .337 with 10 homers, 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 49 games. That earned him a promotion to the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. His numbers took a dip there, but overall, he hit .283 in the minors in 2018, totaling 15 homers, eight triples, 13 doubles and 27 stolen bases for three affiliates. 

Avelino made his MLB debut on Sept. 8 and picked up his first two hits on Sept. 26. He singled off Clayton Kershaw in his second-to-last appearance of the season. 

Avelino did not play enough to make any kind of real determination about his defense, but he appears to be a true shortstop with the skills to play other infield spots, and team officials want to see if he can play the outfield, too. 

(Also he had one of the funniest celebrations of the season.)

What Went Wrong

It’s hard to take too much away from the Major League numbers. At two Triple-A stops, Avelino struggled a bit, posting a .663 OPS after a promotion with the Yankees and then going 2-for-13 with the River Cats. He was 23 and repeating Double-A, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that he dominated the level in 2018.

The Giants would like to see more from him in Triple-A early next season. 

Avelino is certainly fast, but some on staff believe he’s more of an above-average runner than the elite burner that his minor league stat lines say he is. That’s to be determined. He didn’t get to run much in September. 

Contract Status

Avelino was added to a 40-man roster for the first time in September. He has not used any minor league options. 

The Future

Avelino, acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade, will play winter ball this offseason and the Giants will be open-minded about him when he arrives in Scottsdale. But a number of things will have to go wrong elsewhere for him to be in the big leagues early next season. He needs more minor league at-bats, but he should be a factor at some point in 2019.

It’s been a while since the Giants had a true backup for Brandon Crawford, and Avelino could become interesting quickly if he shows he can be a super-utility player.

Giants executive David Bell named finalist for Reds next manager


Giants executive David Bell named finalist for Reds next manager

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue their search for a new head of baseball operations, one of their top executives may be headed elsewhere.

The Cincinnati Reds announced Thursday morning that three men will get second interviews in their search for a new manager: Joe Girardi, Brad Ausmus and David Bell, currently serving as the Giants' vice president of player development. 

Bell, who joined the Giants last offseason, also reportedly has interviewed with the Rangers and Blue Jays. Some within the Giants organization have viewed him as their future manager, but it seems a decent bet that he'll get his shot well before then.

Bell was a manager in the Reds' minor league system earlier in his career and his father played for the Reds. 

The Reds had 12 candidates interview initially, according to Bell was joined by, among others, current Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens.