Giants

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed. 

Giants rookie Andrew Suarez shows competitiveness when Bruce Bochy pulls him

Giants rookie Andrew Suarez shows competitiveness when Bruce Bochy pulls him

SAN DIEGO — The two rookie pitchers who have helped solidify Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation go about their business in different ways. You can see the fire in Dereck Rodriguez’s eyes as he stands on the mound, and there seems to be a certain intensity with everything he does on the field. Andrew Suarez, on the other hand, often seems to be playing a stress-free game of catch. 

But on Monday, Suarez showed what you knew was there. You don’t get to this level without being ultra-competitive, and the rookie let his guard down for a split-second when Bochy came out with the hook after just 87 pitches en route to a 4-2 win over the Padres. Suarez briefly threw his hands up, and the disappointment was clear on his face as he walked off the field. A few moments later, he found his manager in the dugout. 

“I just apologized to him. I thought I showed him up,” Suarez said. “That’s the last thing I’m trying to do.”

Bochy didn’t mind one bit. 

“I don’t want them to (want to) come out,” he said. “He’s a competitor. We had our guys fresh, [the relievers] have been throwing the ball well.”

Ultimately, Tony Watson got out of the eighth and Will Smith closed out the win. Suarez got the victory, his seventh, and showed a little fire in the process. The Giants knew it was there. It just took a tough decision for it to be made public. 

“My pitch count was low for being that deep in the game,” Suarez said. “I thought I would finish it. I was surprised, but you have to go to the bullpen. We have a good bullpen.”

Suarez said he hoped to match Chris Stratton’s complete game from Friday night, but the Giants are handling Suarez and Rodriguez a bit differently down the stretch, trying to keep some innings off their arms even as they go all the way through the end of September. Bochy liked Mark Melancon against the Padres coming up, regardless of how many pitches Suarez had thrown. 

In the end, it was the best of both worlds for the Giants. They got out of the inning and got the win, and they learned a bit more about a rookie who has been one of the biggest bright spots of a down year. 

“He said it was ok,” Suarez said of his conversation with Bochy. “He liked that I was competitive.”

Giants rookies take advantage of chance vs. Padres with big night

Giants rookies take advantage of chance vs. Padres with big night

SAN DIEGO — The days of this being AT&T Park South are over. There were maybe 5,000 people actually at Petco Park on Monday night, and the usual large swatches of orange were missing. You can’t blame any fans who took this trip off their calendar sometime over the past six weeks. 

But the Giants have kept it circled, and not just because of all the taco spots within walking distance of the team hotel. Manager Bruce Bochy has tried to be respectful of games with contenders, trotting out lineups that included plenty of veterans. The first night against the last-place Padres allowed for some extra time for his rookies, and man, did they take advantage. 

Andrew Suarez would have been in the lineup regardless, and he continued a strong first season with a career-high 7 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win over the Padres. Left fielder Chris Shaw had his first career three-hit game, giving him five in two days. Aramis Garcia looked at home in his first start at first base and drove in a run with a hard single. Right fielder Austin Slater cut a runner down at second with one of the best throws of the year by a Giant. 

“They did a great job,” Bochy said. “It started with Suarez, what a great job he did. He really had a good fastball going, good movement on it. Shaw, a nice game by him, and a big hit by Garcia. It was good to see the kids playing well.”

The biggest leaps in recent days have come from Shaw, who looked lost at the plate for his first 25 big league plate appearances but has been locked in the last couple of days. Shaw said he made an adjustment, starting his swing earlier. He lifts his leg when the pitcher lifts his leg, a tweak he used earlier in his career. 

“It allows me a ton of time,” he said. 

On Monday, Shaw used those split-seconds to shoot the ball all over the field. He had a single and double to left and pulled a hard double down the right field line. The final hit came off a lefty reliever, and was enough to have his manager doing a little extra noodling late at night. Bochy said he will think about using Shaw against either lefty Joey Lucchesi on Tuesday or Robbie Erlin on Wednesday. 

If Shaw does get a start against a lefty, that’ll be another milestone to check off the list. Monday’s game also showed that he still has room to grow in other departments. After the double, Bochy put Gorkys Hernandez in for defensive purposes. He said Shaw has come a long way and done a good job out there, but it’s clear the staff would like to see more. 

In right field, Slater continued to show that he has the tools to handle either corner spot. His throw to rob Franmil Reyes of a double was one of the defensive highlights of the season for the Giants.

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They have not, in recent years, had any types of arms in the outfield. Slater’s is clearly different. 

“That’s one of the more impressive plays and throws I’ve seen,” Bochy said. “It’s not like he took his time to gather himself to get a lot on it. It was all arm. He’s going away from second base and he wheels and fires a bullet right on the money.”