Giants

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

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Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.

What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.

Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.

While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.

And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.

MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

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MLB rumors: Giants, A's appear out on trade for Yankees' Sonny Gray

Both the Giants and the A's reportedly had interest in acquiring Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray this offseason, but it doesn't appear he'll make a return to the Bay Area.

Per Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees and Reds are engaged in trade discussions that would send Gray to Cincinnati in exchange for infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick.

Gray would have made sense for both Bay Area teams, as the Giants and the A's could use an influx of quality starting pitching. Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 130.1 innings for New York last season, but he was far better on the road than he was at home. 

Considering Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park are far more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium, a bounceback season in the Bay Area certainly could have been possible. Alas, it appears Gray could be making his home starts at Great American Ball Park, which just might be the most hitter-friendly park in the entire league.