Giants

Giants prospect Logan Webb more motivated than ever after PED suspension

Giants prospect Logan Webb more motivated than ever after PED suspension

Logan Webb needed something to clear his mind. The Giants' top pitching prospect played a lot of video games -- mostly Madden and NBA 2K -- and even took up a little golf in Arizona. Mostly, he turned to his friends and family whenever he could. 

"Honestly, the best thing I could do is lean on my family. That was the main thing. Lean on my teammates and my friends back home," Webb said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. "That was big for me because a lot of the time I felt almost alone. Just kind of a lonely feeling.

"But there was a lot of great guys down there in Arizona." 

The great guys in Arizona he's referring to are at the Giants' spring training facility to rehab an injury or play in either extended spring training or the Arizona Rookie League. Webb, however, was there for an entirely different reason. 

After a phenomenal start to the season in Double-A Richmond, the 22-year-old was suspended 80 games on May 1 after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance. Webb denied ever knowingly taking a PED when the suspension was announced, and he's sticking to his side of the story. 

"I’m gonna stand by it forever. That will never change," Webb said. 

Shortly after the news was announced, Webb packed his bags and headed to the desert. He's been throwing the entire time and has worked extensively with the training staff to stay in shape. While in Arizona, Webb says he worked more on his changeup and really was able to refine his mechanics. 

He also had someone right there with him he could turn to at any time of the day. 

"Obviously my family, but a guy I could really lean on is [Giants pitching prospect] Mac Marshall. He’s been a huge help. We’ve been best friends since we’ve been drafted. Unfortunately, he was in Arizona too (rehabbing an injury). He’s been a huge help. Being able to talk to him and hang out with him a bunch, he’s been unbelievable in helping me get over it." 

While he pitched in extended spring training games, Webb was back on the hill in a real game setting for the first time since being suspended when he joined the AZL Giants Orange in Rookie League on July 12. He allowed one earned run and struck out six batters over five innings. 

Webb also pitched in front of a few of the other top Giants prospects, including 17-year-old Marco Luciano and the team's top pick this year, Hunter Bishop. 

"[Luciano's] a stud," Webb said. "I got to play with a lot of those guys. I got to play with Bishop a little and he’s great. All of those guys are great. [Luciano's] gonna be a superstar."

Throughout his three-game "rehab assignment," Webb played with some of San Francisco's best young talent. He can feel the excitement of the whole organization as the farm system clearly is on the rise, saying "it's pretty impressive to see." 

Webb pitched once in the AZL and twice with Low Class-A Augusta during his rehab assignment before he was re-instated Saturday and back on the bump Sunday with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. In his first game back in Double-A, Webb went 4 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs and recorded six strikeouts. Webb now is 2-3 with a 1.93 ERA and has 52 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. 

The Rocklin native was rising up the rankings at the start of the season. Now, he finds himself more motivated than ever. He's always had a chip on his shoulder, but never one this big. 

"That’s kind of my mentality -- proving people wrong," Webb said. "Just going out there and proving who I am and who I was is the same guy. Finish what I started. Pitch my heart out pretty much." 

Webb believes his suspension could serve as fuel to the fire. It's a label he'll always carry with him and he'll always have to find the light with a dark shadow cast over him.

At the same time, it's also something he doesn't wish upon anybody else. 

"It’s the worst thing ever and I’m still not truly over it," Webb said. "In a way, I’m gonna use that -- it’s the only thing I can do. Use this as a chip on my shoulder like I have been my whole life. I'm just excited to prove myself." 

[RELATED: MadBum earns win in final start before MLB trade deadline]

Throughout our talk, Webb used words like confusing and frustrating to describe the past few months. He still doesn't know why or how this happened to him. I asked Webb what word best chronicles his mindset while dealing with the suspension. After a few long pauses sprinkled in with some "umms," he found his answer.

"Motivated." 

The mound is the last place Webb feels lonely. His safe haven is back. Now it's up to him to use his motivation to finish what he started on his road to San Francisco.

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MLB free agency: What are Giants' biggest needs as hot stove begins?

MLB free agency: What are Giants' biggest needs as hot stove begins?

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler spent nearly an hour discussing the more controversial aspects of the Giants' manager hire, new general manager Scott Harris sat to Kapler's left and took it all in. Other than his own introductory remarks, Harris was mostly silent, but Zaidi smiled and looked at his GM when a reporter asked Zaidi how he planned to "attack free agency."

"Scott?" Zaidi said, laughing. 

Harris took the question, but he didn't give up much more than Zaidi would have. 

"We're excited to have the three of us in place and to start having those conversations that are full of debate, that are full of challenging each other," Harris said, "To make sure that we're targeting the right players and Gabe feels comfortable deploying those players in the right way to allow them to succeed."

More than anything, Kapler simply needs better players. Zaidi and Harris jumped right in to that process, flying to Scottsdale after the Kapler press conference despite the fact that they had already missed most of the first three days of the four-day GM Meetings. Zaidi and Harris have spent plenty of time over the last month discussing their future plans, but they planned to set up meetings in Scottsdale to start zeroing in on specific free agent targets. 

Who are those players? We know one who is off the list. Closer Will Smith signed with the Braves before Kapler could even move into his office, leaving a big hole in the bullpen. That's where we'll start in this early look at what the Giants need in free agency:

Bullpen

The closer right now is ... maybe Tony Watson? Maybe Shaun Anderson? Tyler Rogers and Sam Coonrod showed flashes as rookies, Trevor Gott is healing well, and guys like Jandel Gustave, Sam Selman and Andrew Suarez should be part of the mix. But that's not a good bullpen on paper. 

The Giants will need to add, although as we saw last year, they're more likely to do so with minor additions and trades -- like the Gott move. Don't expect them to spend big on what's left of the relief market. One of the best arms still out there, Drew Pomeranz, is already familiar to them. They're more likely to find the next reclamation project than sign a player looking for big money. 

Backup catcher

Stephen Vogt is wildly popular and had a very nice year as Buster Posey's partner, but he has talked of trying to win a World Series. He is smart enough to know San Francisco is not the place to do that in 2020. 

Vogt liked San Francisco and may return, but if he signs with a contender, the Giants will need a bridge to Joey Bart. Aramis Garcia is an option, but if Zaidi wanted to go with Erik Kratz last opening day over Garcia, it seems likely another veteran is brought in a year later. 

Lefty infielder

The Giants used more platoons last season and could use a left-handed hitter to take some at-bats away from Evan Longoria and Mauricio Dubon. Longoria had a .722 OPS against righties last season and Dubon is still unproven. Pablo Sandoval did some heavy lifting at third base last season, but he'll miss most of 2020 after Tommy John having surgery and is a free agent. The other backup infield option, Donovan Solano, also hits from the right side. 

Kean Wong, claimed off waivers earlier this month, hits left-handed, but he has just 18 big league at-bats. 

Righty outfielder

Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson (if he can stay healthy) should go into next season looking at meaty roles, but the Giants don't have much from the right side other than Kevin Pillar. Austin Slater's numbers took a nosedive in the second half and Jaylin Davis struggled in a September cameo. Joey Rickard is a candidate to be non-tendered. 

The Giants need outfield help in general, but they're especially lacking in right-handed pop. Zaidi tried plenty of fringe options in 2019. He has the financial wiggle room to take some bigger swings this offseason if he wants to. 

[RELATED: Giants continue Triples Alley work, move bullpens off field]

The Bumgarner situation

If it feels like we've hit on all corners of the roster here, it's because, well, yeah, the roster has a lot of holes. 

The biggest one is now at the top of the rotation, where the Giants very well may be looking for a way to replace their longtime ace. Bringing Bumgarner back would actually pretty much set the rotation. The Giants could feel pretty comfortable going into next spring with Bumgarner, a healthy Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, followed by the group of Suarez, Dereck Rodriguez, Tyler Anderson and any depth options Zaidi is able to scoop up. 

But pull Bumgarner out of that group and you have a big hole, especially because Beede is still mostly unproven and Webb will have an innings limit. Internally, Zaidi and Harris likely have already decided how hard they'll go after Bumgarner. If they're not intent on bringing him back, they'll need rotation help. 

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Giants' Mauricio Dubon needs jersey number after Gabe Kapler took his

Gabe Kapler had his introductory press conference as the Giants' new manager, and he's chosen his uniform number as well.

The skipper has chosen No. 19 to sport this season, which means young infielder Mauricio Dubon will have to choose a new number -- and he needs your help.

He recently took to Twitter and asked what number he should wear now that he has to make the switch: 

No. 21 appeared to stand out from a Milwaukee Brewer's fan account, since Honduras became a country in 1821. Dubon was born in Honduras in 1994 (sorry to make you guys feel old).

[RELATED: Dubon gets engaged at Disneyland Paris]

Five-time All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent also sported the number with San Francisco.

We shall see ...