Giants

Giants' Pence likely to have surgery on torn hamstring

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Giants' Pence likely to have surgery on torn hamstring

ST. LOUIS -- For the second straight year the Giants will play a significant portion of the season without their star right fielder. 

The Giants announced Friday that Hunter Pence has a hamstring tendon that's torn off the bone on his right leg, and the club is leaning toward surgery. Pence is expected to miss about two months.

The Giants are currently in the process of determining when and where Pence might have a procedure, which would get him back on the field quicker than a rehab program. Trainer Dave Groeschner said one of three tendons in that part of Pence's leg will be removed, similar to a procedure Angel Pagan had in 2013.

Pagan originally returned for a rehab assignment that June and and then was carted off the field. He ended up returning from surgery less than three months later, but Groeschner said Pence's case is slightly different. The Giants had multiple doctors across the country look at Pence's MRI results and the consensus was that Pence should have the surgery instead of trying to rehab, and that his timetable would be set at eight weeks. The Giants hope to get him back in August.

"I just trust in the doctors and the process, and we have a great team here," Pence said. "I understand what happened. For me, it's whatever I can do to get back and strong and capable to help the team. I'm kind of optimistic and relieved to be able to work on that. It feels good to know there's a process and what needs to happen to get back."

Pence said he felt his hamstring pop when he was running down the line Wednesday in Atlanta. He was told that if he didn't have surgery, there was a 50-50 chance of re-injuring the tendon this season and thus having a longer recovery. 

"We may do this and the timetable may change, but right now it's eight weeks and it may be shorter than that," Groeschner said. "(Surgery) is a better outcome, a more predictable outcome. In any case you want to shy away from surgery, but to get him back and for him to be healthy that's what's best.

The Giants have averaged 4.87 runs per game and gone 62-36 with Pence in the lineup the last two seasons. Without him -- Pence hurt his wrist and oblique last season -- they are 56-64 and average 3.89 runs per game. Manager Bruce Bochy said he'll lean on young outfielders Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, as well as Kelby Tomlinson, who has one start in the outfield. Brandon Belt could play outfield more often, too.

Bochy also acknowledged that he has discussed trade options with general manager Bobby Evans.

"Like every club, you kick the tires and see if something makes sense," he said.

In addition to Pence, the Giants are still without Pagan, who is 7-10 days away from returning from his own hamstring strain. 

"We have two of our regular outfielders out, and it's always challenging," Bochy said. "It's more important I think that we keep pushing here. We've dealt with this, we've overcome -- even in good years -- big injuries. We need these (young players) to help out and contribute. That has to happen. If you look at our lineup, as a group, we can get better."

As he did last year, Pence plans on rehabbing with the team. He is a firm believer that you can help out while on the disabled list, and he smiled Friday as he pointed out that "what I have still healthy is my mind." There is little doubt that Pence will continue to be the team's inspirational leader as he rehabs and continues to train.

"I like the phrase, 'Be a fountain,' and lift these guys up and at the same time do the work to get back," he said. "The good news is there's going to be a lot left of the season when I get back. That's exciting."

MLB rumors: Why Giants should trade for Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray

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MLB rumors: Why Giants should trade for Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray

The Sonny Gray era in New York appears to be coming to an end, and the Giants should pounce at the chance to add the former Cy Young candidate. 

According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees are pushing hard to complete a Gray trade soon. He also lists the Giants as one of seven teams that have been involved as possible partners, and perhaps recent favorites.

Why would the Giants want to trade for someone that had a 4.90 ERA in only 130 innings and a whopping 1.50 WHIP last season? The numbers aren't that simple. 

It all starts with Yankee Stadium, or "The Sandbox in the Bronx." Gray had a brutal 6.98 ERA in 15 games in his home park in 2018, but a great 3.17 ERA in 15 games away from it. His WHIP went from 1.91 in New York to 1.16 at all other ballparks. 

The Yankees are known as the Bronx Bombers for a reason. They turn games into Home Run Derby in their own backyard. Now imagine being on the other side of the ball, the one who throws the pitches and sees a pop-up turn into a jog around the bases. 

When looking at Park Factors, which compares the rate of stats at home versus the rate of stats on the road, Yankee Stadium was the sixth-best home run park in the league. It's no coincidence Gray allowed 11 home runs there and only three on the road. 

By comparison, AT&T Park Oracle Park was the second-worst ballpark for home runs last season by Park Factors. 

It's well known that the Giants play in one of the most pitcher-friendly places in all of baseball. Gray has never had the luxury of pitching in San Francisco -- he's also never pitched at Petco Park (Padres) or Coors Field (Rockies) -- but he's only allowed two earned runs in 15.1 innings combined at Chase Field (Diamondbacks) and Dodger Stadium. 

Gray, 29, could thrive in a new environment like San Francisco -- especially by working with his old pitching coach Curt Young again. Young was Gray's pitching coach on the A's, when Gray had his most success (including a third-place finish for the Cy Young Award in 2015).

As Gray is a free agent after 2019 season, he could either help the Giants contend this season or become a valuable trade chip if San Francisco is out of the playoff hunt by the July 31 trade deadline. 

In an offseason where bringing back Derek Holland has been the biggest move, it's time to take a chance and make it Sonny in the Bay again.

Giants Mailbag: Is there an ideal fit still out there on the market?

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Giants Mailbag: Is there an ideal fit still out there on the market?

SAN FRANCISCO — On Friday, we will be one month from the first full-squad workout at Scottsdale Stadium.

If the Giants gathered today, they would look eerily similar to the team that finished far out of contention last season. 

That should change, of course. Team officials expect to make multiple additions over the next three weeks, taking advantage as prices continue to fall for the dozens of quality free agents still on the market. Trade talks have remained steady, too. 

But right now, we’re still in the midst of an extremely quiet offseason. On Wednesday, Ahmed Fareed joined me for a lengthy podcast that went over the slow pace, the Harper-Machado markets, the issues with the CBA, young players vying for jobs and much more. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. 

Thank you to everyone who sent questions along. There were so many that it’s time to add a mailbag to the podcast … 

Sign Marwin Gonzalez as a super utility, seems like a Zaidi kinda guy, provided he’s not too expensive. Then look to trade him at the deadline to a team in the hunt. - @brayden_cleland

Longtime listeners of the podcast know that Gonzalez has been my target throughout this offseason. He could be the opening day left fielder and provide depth throughout the infield, and he would add some pop. He has been connected to some contenders — primarily the Braves, lately — but for the most part, he has been out of the headlines.

It’s possible Gonzalez is waiting to see where Harper and Machado end up, knowing that the teams that miss out will have plenty of money left to spend. 

The second part of this question is interesting to me because we don’t quite know what Zaidi thinks of no-trade clauses. Bobby Evans handed them out to just about everyone, and the Giants are paying for that. You can bet Zaidi would like to avoid doing the same. But it’s possible that veterans — like Gonzalez — will make that a prerequisite of signing with a team that’s not looking like a contender. It’ll be interesting to see how Zaidi handles the no-trade issue. 

Will Watson and Smith both be traded this year? What teams do you think are the best trade partners? - @Dc_cargo

I would be surprised if they’re both on the Opening Day roster. Ahmed made a good point on the podcast, predicting that the Giants will actually make their trade during spring training. There will be a team that loses a valuable reliever to injury during spring training, and perhaps that’s when Zaidi will pounce. 

Before then, I still think there’s a strong chance that Smith gets dealt. Team officials were awfully shy about naming him the closer when they gathered in Las Vegas last month, and they’ve made no secret of the fact that they get calls on Smith. Andrew Baggarly mentioned the Angels as a team that’s been hot on Giants relievers.

This is just my speculation, but if the Red Sox aren’t able to bring Kimbrel back, Smith could make a ton of sense for them. With Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton in New York, the Red Sox certainly have some work to do to keep up with their rival. 

How does the Giants brass feel about possibly sharing Oracle Park with the Raiders next season? - @SportsAnthony

I’m sure there are mixed feelings throughout the organization. Some people I’ve talked to were shocked that this was an option, but at the same time, it could bring some serious cash into the organization, and this remains a business.

The Giants looked seriously into having an XFL team play at AT&T Park when that league reboots, so they’re prepared to continue hosting occasional football games. I checked on this about a week ago and was told it’s still possible that the Giants and Raiders strike a deal. 

Is Zaidi going to keep the infield and try to trade bullpen pieces for a veteran outfielder? Also, how does the rotation stack up for you? Bum, D Rod, Holland, Suarez, Stratton? Will they trade Samardzija? Will Pablo and Longoria platoon at third? Better athlete...Ahmed or Alex. - @Hardeepd2

A lot to unpack here. If the Giants do trade a Smith or Watson, they won’t be aiming to get veterans back. The goal in any deal right now is to get young cost-controlled contributors who have options remaining. Think of it as trying to get another team’s Andrew Suarez or Steven Duggar. Zaidi wants flexibility. 

It’s just about impossible to trade a guy with a shoulder injury, so the best the Giants can do with Samardzija is hope he’s healthy — his throwing program is said to be going well — and run him out there as part of the rotation, either for their own benefit or to rebuild his trade value before July 31. Right now, it’s Bumgarner, Rodriguez, Holland, Samardzija, and Suarez in some order. 

RELATED: [What Zaidi learned from Muncy, Taylor discovery]

They won’t put Longoria in a straight platoon, although I think all the veterans will lose some time when the matchups are right. Longoria doesn’t have huge splits but I still think they’ll give him more rest. 

As for the final question, this is certainly something we should have settled when the Giants were losing every day in September and we were trying to figure out what to talk about on the pre-game show … 

Any thoughts on Adam Jones? - @jakewilcken420

On a cheap, one-year deal that puts him in an outfield corner? Sure. There’s no harm in that, and the roster certainly needs a veteran right-handed bat in the outfield. But I think there’s a fine line with some of the remaining veterans. You look over the outfield list and at some point, you reach a point where you might as well throw Williamson, Slater, Shaw, Gerber, and Ferguson out there and let them sink or swim.

A big part of the 2019 season is figuring out who can be part of a more potent team in 2020, and the Giants won’t do that if they give too many at-bats to 33-year-olds.