Giants Notes: Okert's beer shower; pair of injured players sent to Arizona

Giants Notes: Okert's beer shower; pair of injured players sent to Arizona

LOS ANGELES -- The new visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium is narrow, which at times makes it the perfect runway. Wednesday was one of those times. After picking up his first career win, left-hander Steven Okert was stuffed into a cart. 

"They rolled me in there," Okert said. "I got the shower."

The beer shower is a tradition for pitchers who pick up their first win. It's been going on for decades, with some slight tweaks (these days players are very aware of the location of their phone). Okert's journey was well-earned, and not just because he recorded five outs. Two nights earlier, he got five outs before turning the ball over to Derek Law for a one-out save. 

"I set him up this time," Law said, smiling. 

Okert came on in the ninth with a runner on. He got Corey Seager to ground into a double play. The 10th brought three more outs.

"Both games he played such a critical role in winning the ballgame," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got the win, his first, and good for him. What a great job he did. It was much-needed, too."

Teams have been stacking lefty starters against the Dodgers, but Okert put a twist on it. He churned through outs in the bullpen, and he said he figured that might be the case. 

"I had a feeling I might throw a little more here," he said. "I had three days off against San Diego and I came in feeling good and feeling ready. I knew coming into this that it was a possibility of something like this."

The Giants and Dodgers do not look headed for a late-September race to the finish. But their games always mean a little more, and it appears Okert will be a huge part of this season's matchups. 

--- From last night, here's my game story. The win was No. 1,800 for Bochy. Eight previous managers won 1,800 games and three World Series titles and all are in the Hall of Fame. It's been a lock for Bochy for some time. 

--- Joe Panik had two more hits, including a deep double off Julio Urias. The splits are what they are, but maybe that knock was enough to get him a full-time tryout atop the lineup. At the very least, he figures to be there Friday against right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who is still pitching somehow. 

Panik's double almost wasn't one. Say what you will about Yasiel Puig, but nobody makes that play as close as he did. He remains one of the most exciting players in the game, and Panik had to hustle for two on a ball that hit the wall. He said he looked up and saw Puig grab it and turn.

"It's, 'Alright, well you better kick it into another gear if you've got one,'" he said. "There's nothing that surprises me with him anymore. He's got a great arm."

--- The clubhouse won't be as full against the Reds. Aaron Hill (forearm) left Wednesday to head to Arizona for more rehab and another MRI. Bochy said this is "taking longer than we thought and he thought. It's just not coming around as first hoped." Denard Span is also going to the facility in Scottsdale. That one is also up in the air a little. 

Brandon Crawford took BP and did quite a bit of baseball work on the field Thursday. It will be a close call when the 10 days on the DL are up. Crawford hopes to return to the lineup Saturday, but the staff is being a bit more cautious. Bochy said Crawford will need to be 100 percent to return. 

"With the difficult types of plays that he has to make, you can't bring him back (early)," he said. 

--- If you missed it, Panik was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download on iTunes here.

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.