Giants' Mike Yastrzemski returns to Boston as one of NL's best rookies


Giants' Mike Yastrzemski returns to Boston as one of NL's best rookies

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Saturday night, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski took a pitch off the back foot that momentarily hobbled him. A day later, he dashed for the plate on a wild pitch and had a 225-pound pitcher land directly on his back. As manager Bruce Bochy watched all this, he never had any concerns about his leadoff hitter's ability to take the field Tuesday. 

"I think going to Boston, I don't think anything would have kept him from going and playing," Bochy said. 

This is going to be a special week for Yastrzemski, his family and generations of Red Sox fans. It would have been regardless of the circumstance. If Yastrzemski had spent the entire season in Triple-A and gotten a call-up as an occasional pinch-hitter, the trip to Boston still would have carried significant interest. 

But the grandson of a Red Sox Hall of Famer won't walk into Fenway Park as just another player. Yastrzemski has become an everyday contributor for the Giants at the age of 29, and crosses over to interleague play as one of the top rookies in the NL. 

Yastrzemski ranks fourth among NL rookies with 19 homers and is in the top 10 in WAR (1.8), wRC+ (115), RBI (51) and runs scored (56). He leads Giants regulars with a .833 OPS and .509 slugging percentage. 

Yastrzemski has not gotten caught up in the numbers or hype this year, focusing instead on the day-to-day grind of being a big leaguer. But he knows this week will be different. 

"It's special in a sense with the history of the game and with my grandfather there," he said. "It's going to be pretty emotional to try and contain those things and try to make it feel like it's just a regular game."

Yastrzemski said he always got nice receptions from Red Sox fans when the Orioles would play them in spring training, and he hopes for something similar Tuesday. It shouldn't be long before he finds out what's in store.

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The best story of this Giants season is now hitting leadoff, and Bochy said he plans to start the younger Yaz in all three games at Fenway Park. 

"I think it's going to be cool. I've thought about it," Bochy said. "That's a pretty cool thing, I'm sure, for him and his granddad. It's going to be fun for the fans. It's a big name there so it's going to be exciting."

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

MLB rumors: Mark Kotsay entered Giants manager interviews as favorite

As the Giants watch the World Series from home, their search for a new manager continues. Replacing a legend like Bruce Bochy won't be easy, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi can't wait forever. 

Interviews have begun, and the favorite coming into the process might be someone who would just have to switch sides in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Monday that "word around the industry is that [Mark] Kotsay entered this process as a favored candidate." One source also told Baggarly that he would be surprised if the Giants didn't hire Kotsay.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic first reported on Oct. 9 that the Giants would interview Kotsay, who currently serves as the A's quality control coach.

Kotsay, 43, had a 17-year MLB career where he spent four seasons -- 2004 through '07 -- as an outfielder for the A's. Zaidi was a baseball operations analyst in Oakland when Kotsay played for the A's. 

Kotsay retired after the 2013 season and became a special assistant in the San Diego Padres' front office the next season. He then served as the Padres' hitting coach for the 2015 season and was the A's bench coach in 2016. 

[RELATED: Could MadBum's ugly road stats hurt him in free agency?]

The Giants already interviewed in-house candidates Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus. The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman and John Shea reported Monday that San Francisco also interviewed Cubs first base coach Wil Venable on Friday.

Other reported candidates include Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Madison Bumgarner is entering free agency at a curious time in his career. The longtime Giants ace has built a legendary reputation, but plenty of question marks also surround the 30-year-old.

Bumgarner proved he's still a workhorse after missing time the previous two seasons with freak injuries. His 34 starts were tied for the MLB lead, and his 207 2/3 innings pitched ranked second in the NL.

But while looking at Bumgarner's stats from this past season, one thing stands out that could hurt him in free agency and actually help the Giants if they want to bring back the left-hander.

MadBum's home-road splits were staggering in 2019. He was a completely different pitcher in front of the home crowd at Oracle Park, compared to pitching away from San Francisco.

Here are Bumgarner's home stats this past season, compared to when he pitched on the road.

Home: 19 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA, 122 2/3 IP, 40 ER, 15 HR, 120 SO, 21 BB, 0.93 WHIP, 5.71 SO/W
Away: 15 GS, 3-7, 5.29 ERA, 85 IP, 50 ER, 15 HR, 83 SO, 22 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 3.77 SO/W

Oracle Park is known as a pitcher's dream. In fact, the Giants' home park was the least favorable for offenses this season by Park Factors, per ESPN. The 11-year veteran used that his advantage, but that luxury didn't follow him on the road.

Bumgarner allowed the same amount of homers in four fewer road games as he did at home. He also walked one more batter and allowed five more hits -- 98 on the road, compared to 93 at home. For someone with a lot of mileage on his arm and his fastball declining in velocity, that's certainly alarming.

[RELATED: Astros call possible Giants target Cole 'West Coast guy']

As a pitcher who's never tested the open market and has spent his entire career in a pitcher's paradise, these numbers will be looked at closely by front offices around the league this offseason.

Bumgarner figures to join Gerrit Cole, among others, as the most coveted starting pitchers in free agency. So, while his road numbers could help the Giants in keeping him in San Francisco, they also could prevent the veteran from signing the hefty contract he likely desires.